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His Imperial Highness the Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaievich , Supreme Coinmander- 
in-Chief of the Russian Land and Sea Forces, August, 1914, till the 4th September, 

[Frontispiece Vol. I. 








K.C.B., C.M.G. 










1 f 


OF the multitude of war books, few have dealt with the struggle in 
the Eastern theatre. Yet it is certainly the second theatre in 
importance, and probably the most interesting of all to the military 
reader. The German General Staff, it is true, has produced 
valuable studies of certain episodes of the fighting in Russia, but from 
the point of view of our Ally there has been little or nothing. 

Until the day, which all lovers of Russia hope is not far distant 
when the Russian General Staff will be able to publish to the world an 
official account of the work of the Russian Army in the Great War, 
it is thought that these extracts from the Diary of a British officer may 
prove of interest. The writer can at any rate claim to have enjoyed 
greater opportunities for observation of the Russian army than any 
other foreign observer, both previous to the war as Military Attache* 
to the British Embassy at Petrograd, and during the war as liaison 
officer at the front. 

If some of his Russian friends find his comments occasionally over- 
frank, he asks their forgiveness. He wrote things down as they 
seemed to him at the time. 

These twenty-five chapters give the writer's experiences during 
three and a half years of war and revolution. Passing through Ger- 
many on the eve of the declaration of war, he spent a few days at the 
Headquarters of the Grand Duke Nikolas. He then visited the 3rd 
Army just before its invasion of Galicia (Chapter I.), and the 2nd 
Army during the battle of Tannenberg (Chapter II.). In September 
he accompanied a cavalry division in a raid in South-West Poland, and 
retired with it before Hindenburg's first offensive against Warsaw 
(Chapter III.). In the following months he was with the Guard 
Corps at the battle of Ivangorod, and in the subsequent Russian 
counter-offensive towards Krakau (Chapter IV.). Some account 
derived from eye-witnesses is given of the operation of Lodz (Chapter 
V.), of the disaster to the Russian loth Army in February, 1915, and 
of the operations on the Narev in the winter of that year (Chapter VI.) . 

In the great Russian retreat from Poland in 1915, due to lack of 

vi Preface 

armament, the writer was attached first to the Guard Corps and later 
to the Staff of the ist Army (Chapter VIII.). Chapter IX. tells of the 
German cavalry raid on Svyentsyani in September, 1915, and 
Chapter X. of the adventures of a Russian Delegation despatched to 
England and France to obtain munitions. 

Chapters XII.-XVI. describe the fighting in 1916, with many hither- 
to unpublished details of Brusilov's offensive and the subsequent opera- 
tions. Chapter XVII. deals with the political unrest preceding the 
Revolution. Chapters XIX.-XXV. give an eye-witness's account of 
the Revolution of March I2th, 1917, and of the rapid decline of the 
Russian army, culminating in the Bolshevik coup d'etat of November 7th 
and the negotiations for the separate peace. 





Conditions of service Military Law of 1914 Recruitment Organisation 
in peace Expansion in war Number of men available Depot units 
Armament Rifles Machine-guns Guns Aircraft Transport 
Training The officers General Staff Regimental and reserve 
officers The non-commissioned officers The rank and file A long 
war necessarily fatal to Russia . . . . . . . . xvii 




Return from leave through Germany at the end of July The mobilisation 
General Laguiche Forecast of the enemy's probable distribution of 
strength Departure from Petrograd in the Grand Duke Nikolas's 
train The Grand Duke's Staff The journey to Baranovichi Con- 
versation with the Grand Duke General Jilinski, Commander-in- 
Chief of the North- West Front Boredom of life at Baranovichi The 
Russian plan of campaign and strategical deployment Composition of 
the front-line armies Visit to the South- West Front Dinner with 
General Ivanov The 3rd Army on the eve of crossing the frontier 
Visit to the 33rd Division Russian patience and good temper De- 
parture from Baranovichi . . . . . . . . . . 37 


General situation on the North- West Front Interview with General 
Jilinski on the evening of August 23rd Lunch with General Samsonov 
at Ostrolenka on August 24th Situation of the 2nd Army Chief of 
Staff's pessimism Arrival at Neidenburg Visits to General Martos 
of the XVth Corps and to General Torklus of the 6th Division 
Battle of Orlau-Frankenau Lack of businesslike method Position 
of the Russian forces on the evening of the 25th Arrival of General 
Samsonov at Neidenburg on August 26th German attack on the ist 
Corps Situation on the night of the 26th Position on the morning 
of August 2 yth Russian estimate of German strength Signs of 
nerves Conversation with General Samsonov on the morning of the 
28th Drive to Ostrolenka Situation in Warsaw The battle in the 


viii Contents 


south undecided Back to Ostrolenka The disaster to the 2nd Army 
from accounts of eye-witnesses Relation of the Russian Staff. 

AFTERNOTE. At Byelostok Recapture and re-abandonment of 
Neidenburg A German account of events in the and Army Inex- 
perience of Russian commanders Defective services of intelligence 
and communications Orders and counter-orders Adventures of 
Samsonov's Chief of Intelligence Work of the ist Army Relation of 
a member of Rennenkampf's Staff Wanderings of the Ilnd Corps 
Relation of a member of the Staff of the Ilnd Corps The invasion of 
East Prussia gained its object, but the price paid was unnecessarily 
great Wonderful success of the German Command Removal of 
Russian commanders-r-Reconstitution of the XVth and Xlllth Corps 56 


OCTOBER, 1914 

Success of the Russian offensive on the South-West Front Rumoured 
enemy transfers from the French theatre Visit to the fitape Comman- 
dant at Warsaw Pessimistic Englishmen Journey to join the Staff of 
the 9th Army in Galicia Difficulties at Lyublin Bibikov's death 
Guard Co-operative Society Anecdotes of the recent fighting The 
wounded Supply and transport Preparations for the defence of the 
Vistula Keen subalterns Sandomir The Cossacks Headquarters 
of the gth Army at Zolbnev General Gulevich Situation in Galicia 
Proposed cavalry raid on Austrian communications The start of the 
raid i4th Cavalry Division Generals Novikov and Erdeli Staff 
of the 1 4th Cavalry Division Polish mistrust of Russian promises 
Adisturbed night The situation Staff routine Cavalry armament 
Skirmish with " Sokols " Remounts A month's casualties in 
a cavalry division Burning of a country house Orders Terrible 
situation of the Poles " The Bloodthirsty Cornet " The division 
recalled to the north owing to the German offensive Skirmish with a 
German cavalry patrol Examination of prisoners Through Pinchov 
with a sentimental officer The enemy strength estimated at one 
corps only Maxim's "gallantry" Position of opposing forces 
Delaying action at Yasenn A Jewish spy Continuation of retreat 
Adventures of a Cossack squadron commander on reconnaissance 
Situation on October ist Machine-guns Strength of cavalry 
regiment Reconnaissance Futility of attempts to delay the ad- 
vance of the enemy infantry Confidence regarding the speedy end 
of the war Horse-rations in peace and war Intelligence Re- 
connaissance and " flying posts " Battle patrols Orderly parties 
A night alarm and subsequent march A German prisoner Russian 
infantry west of the Vistula Staff of the Cavalry Corps loses control 
owing to rapidity of enemy advance Supply Narrow escape at 
Ostrovets on October 3rd Last " delaying position " on October 6th 
Retirement across the Vistula at Novo Alexandriya Good-bye to 
the 1 4th Cavalry Division Journey to Warsaw. 

AFTERNOTE. The average daily march of the 1 4th Cavalry Division 
The Russian cavalry Subsequent services of the I4th Cavalry Divi- 
sion Of General Erdeli Of General Sencha Of Captain Sapoj- 
nikov Fine death of Colonel Westphalen Death of Captain 
Plotnikov, his presentiment Subsequent services of General Novikov 
and of Colonel Dreyer . . . . . . . . . . 95 

Contents ix 






Line held by the Russians in Galicia on September 2ist, 1914 Difficulties 
of supply Transfer to the north First news received of Hinden- 
burg's advance on September 23rd Question whether the enemy 
should be met west of or in rear of the Vistula The disaster at Opatov 
Location of units of 4th, gth and 5th Armies on October 6th 
Difficulties in carrying out the Russian change of front Failure of 
the enemy's plans Warsaw crowded with fugitives on October 
1 2th The Russians resume the offensive Journey to Lyublin 
Weather Railway transport Office of Commandant of the Lines 
of Communication at Lyublin Story of the Jew at Ivangorod 
The road from Lyublin to Krasnik The distribution of armies The 
ride back from Krasnik General Lechitski Russian success at 
Warsaw General Gulevich regrets the lack of bridgeheads on the 
Vistula The fieldpost Orders issued to the Qth Army for the 
offensive^ Drive from Lyublin to Ivangorod to join the Guard Corps 
Russian infantry on the march Second -line transport The battle 
of Ivangorod Visit to the XXVth Corps in advance of Novo Alex- 
andriya Retirement of the enemy The church at Zvolen A 
subaltern of the Preobrajenski Regiment A drummer boy's funeral 
Russian distribution on October 28th The Staff of the Guard Corps 
A priest's story Touch with the enemy lost Stories of the enemy's 
doings Visit to Warsaw Russian plans Sufferings of the Poles 
Return to the Guard Corps Second-line troops Destruction of 
railways Situation in South-West Poland on November 8th 
Advance of the Guard Corps towards Krakau Waiting for the 3rd 
Army Nervousness regarding ammunition supply Composition of 
the 3rd and 8th Armies Tired infantry A Frenchman The tunnel 
at Myekhov The system of replacing casualties in the Guard 
Corps Objectives of Russian armies A Guard regiment in action 
Russian information of enemy dispositions on November iyth 
A prisoner's reply The 2nd Guard Infantry Division held up The 
first news of the offensive from Thorn received at i a.m. on the i8th 
General anxiety regarding shortage of ammunition Failure of 
Russian counter-offensive becomes probable The 45th Division in 
action Points about winter warfare Views in South-West Poland 
regarding offensive from Thorn Shortage of shell not local but 
general Depression Visit to the Finlandski Regiment at Yangrot 
and to the Preobrajenski Regiment at Poremba Gorna Abandon- 
ment of the attempted offensive Losses in the Guard Corps Men in 
the trenches frozen at night Strength opposite the 4th and 9th 
Armies gth Army averages only 7,000 men per division Another 
visit to the Preobrajenski Regiment Slackness of counter-espionage 
Weakness of our strategy Grand Duke's enquiries regarding 
equipment Lack of officers The tunnel at Myekhov Retirement 
becomes probable Inefficient railway management Inefficiency oa 
the Lines of Communication Visit to Headquarters of the 2nd 
Guard Infantry Division Progress of the 3rd Army south of Krakau 
Desertions Drive to Warsaw Drafts on the march Warsaw 
rumours Large reinforcements for the front Arrival at Petrograd. 
AFTERNOTE. Failure of Hindenburg's first offensive in Poland 
Failure of the Russian counter-offensive The latter in reality a 
gigantic bluff . . . . . . . . . . . . 139 

x Contents 





Hindenburg appointed Commander-in-Chief of the German Forces in the 
East Ludendorff suggests the offensive from Thorn The German 
concentration Tardy Russian counter-measures Mackenzen 's 
rapid advance Defeat of the ist and 2nd Armies in detail Arrange- 
ments for the rescue of the 2nd Army Generals Rennenkampf and 
Plehve Plehve and the orderly officer Move north of the 5th Army 
Enterprise of the German penetrating force Launch of the relieving 
forces from the ist Army The advance of the Lovich Force Change 
of commander Lack of information and of proper equipment 
Second change of commander Modification of orders The German 
penetrating force receives orders to retire, 7 p.m. on the 22nd 
Further change of orders in the Lovich Force The 6th Siberian 
Division asks for help Indecision Russians in the dark Staff of 
Lovich Force loses touch with all its columns Destruction of the 
6th Siberian Division Escape of the German penetrating force Its 
remarkable work Disappointment of the Russians Russian forces 
much intermingled Arrival of German reinforcements Loss of Lodz 
and Lovich Retirement of the Russian armies to the " river line" 
The operation of Lodz probably the most interesting of the war 
from a military psychological standpoint The fog of war Value of 
co-operation Wonderful German organisation Mackenzen's initial 
success His failure owing to the delay and weakness of the German 
offensive further south Question whether the German Supreme 
Command might not with advantage have delayed its offensive till 
the arrival of reinforcements from France and have then launched it 
from Mlava instead of from Thorn The Russian Intelligence on this 
occasion at fault Brilliant work of the Russian 5th Army Rennen- 
kampf's failure Question whether the Russian Supreme Command 
should not have detached troops to the north . . . . . . 202 



MARCH, 1915 

Shortage of rifles The cause Shortage of shell Reduction of the number 
of guns in the infantry division from forty-eight to thirty-six The 
retirement to the " river line " caused by loss of men and deficiency 
of armament Question whether the Grand Duke knew in October of 
the deficiency of rifles and of shell Secretiveness of Russian officials 
General Sukhomlinov amply warned by the Staffs of the Fronts 
and by the Artillery Department His career and character The 
Assistant Minister of War Interview with General Sukhomlinov on 
December i6th Optimism of the Times Visit to G.H.Q. The 
Emperor at G.H.Q. Warsaw in January, 1915 Distribution of 
armies west of Warsaw Fighting against Austrians Opinions of 
General Erdeli and of Count Prjetski on the role and tactics of cavalry 
The Staff of the 5th Army at Mogilnitsa Christmas-trees Diffi- 
culty of obtaining information General Plehve An enemy airman 
Plehve and Miller Visit to the XlXth Corps The Poles as fighters 

Contents xi 


The Poles and the Russians : two points of view Clumsy German 
propaganda The ijth Division and the 68th Borodino Regiment 
Poor trenches Distribution of strength in the IVth Corp Forma- 
tion of the 1 2th Army Appointment of General Gulevich as Chief 
of Staff of the North-West Front His reception of the news Russian 
armies on the South-West Front Anecdote from the 4th Army 
Enemy offensive against the nth Army Comparison of strength on 
the South- West Front Enemy attack on the Bzura at the end of 
January The Guard Corps ordered to Lomja Billets at Lomja The 
disaster to the loth Army Situation on the Narev in the middle of 
February Task of the I2th Army Tactical instructions Concentra- 
tion of the 1 2th Army A cavalry "raid" East Prussian versus 
Galician line of advance Regroupment on February i6th Indecision 
regarding point of concentration of reinforcements Count Nostitz 
Orders and counter-orders Sufferings of the wounded Playing at war 
in the Staff Futile march of the 2nd Guard Infantry Division and the 
Guard Rifle Brigade The troops between the Bobr and the Pissa 
placed under the orders of General Bezobrazov Orders for the 
attack on February 2oth Failure of the 2nd Division at Yedvabno 
and consequent collapse of the attack General discouragement 
Continued transfer of Russian and enemy forces to the Narev front 
Visit to the 2nd Guard Infantry Division Shell Superiority of 
the Germans in manoeuvre Arrival of General Plehve at Lomja 
Poor impression made by the Vth and 1st Corps disagreement 
between Generals Plehve and Bezobrazov regarding the plan of 
attack The question of Osovets Futile attacks on March 2nd, 3rd 
and 4th Adventure of Austin armoured cars The operation of 
Prasnish News of the attack on the Dardanelles Lack of shell 
Pessimism Losses Failure of the second German offensive on 
Prasnish Visit to the 2nd Guard Infantry Division with General 
Bezobrazov The power of religion Dinner to the Commander of 
the Hlrd Caucasian Corps Colonel Engelhardt's views on strategy, 
on Russian generals, on the peace training of officers and on the issue 
of impossible orders Orders issued on March i6th for a general 
standfast on the North- West Front Russian units in the Eastern 
theatre outnumber enemy units, but the enemy superior in communi- 
cations, supply of shell, number of machine-guns and in organisation 
Recalled to Petrograd .. .. .. .. ..216 




Losses in five months of war Number of men called up The Opolchenie 
Depot units Infantry Cavalry artillery Number of divisions 
mobilised Lack of rifles Other desiderata Lack_of guns_arid of 
shell Attitude of the Artillery Department The~GTand Duke Serge 
Suggestions put forward by the French Technical Mission Lord 
Kitchener's policy Russian attitude towards the firm of Vickers 
Colonel Ellershaw's mission to the Grand Duke Nikolas General 
Manikovski Russia's effort in shell production in the first nine 
months of war compared with England's Lord Kitchener's message 
and the reply of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Gas 
masks Riots in Moscow in June Three unpopular ministers The 
Minister of War, General Sukhomlinov, dismissed on June 25th and 
succeeded by General Polivanov Colonel Myasoyedov hung as a 
spy War weariness of all classes . . . . . . . 267 

xii Contents 





The " stand-fast " on the North- West Front Capture of Przemysl 
Offensive by the 3rd and 8th Armies in the Carpathians in April The 
Mackenzen stroke on the Dunajec Retreat of the 3rd Army 
Retreat of the 4th, 8th and nth Armies Exhaustion of the 3rd 
Army Despatch of reinforcements Przemysl abandoned Failure 
of the counter-offensive west of the San Lack of heavy artillery 
Confusion of units in the 3rd and 8th Armies The capture of Memel 
by the Russians leads to the German invasion of Kurland The im- 
portance of the new offensive at first underrated Formation of the 
1 3th Army The Russians outnumbered The transfer of three 
corps from the north to the 4th and 3rd Armies Optimism at War- 
sawVisit to the Staff of the North- West Front at Syedlets 
Opinions regarding Generals Ruzski and Alexyeev Composition of 
the Russian armies at the beginning of July The Supreme Command 
opposed to a counter-offensive owing to lack of rifles and shell 
Disagreement of General Bezobrazov with General Lesh First 
meeting of the Russian Guard with the Prussian Guard General 
Bezobrazov replaced in command of the Guard Corps by General 
Olukhov The flank of the Guard turned owing to the retreat of 
the Ilnd Siberian Corps Incompetence of General Antipov Retreat 
of the 3rd Army Lyublin and Kholm abandoned Lunch with the 
Staff of the 4th Army At the Staff of the ist Army Retreat of the 
ist Army in July Retreat of the I2th Army The retirement from 
the Vistula Situation on August 7th Novogeorgievsk Visit to 
the XXVIIth Corps on August i2th Effect of lack of armament 
on morale Feeling regarding the " inaction " of the Allies Fine 
conduct of the regimental officers under the strain of the retreat 
The tragedy of the lack of shell The staff of the I2th Army moved to 
Petrograd Staff of the I3th Army moved to Riga The fall of 
Kovna and of Novogeorgievsk Visit to Osovets and its abandon- 
ment on August 22nd Polish fugitives . . . . . . 280 



Lack of transverse railways The stcry of the fall of Kovna Trial of 
the Commandant Formation of the Northern Front under General 
Ruzski Events on the Dvina in late August and early September 
Assumption of the Supreme Command by the Emperor with General 
Alexyeev as Chief of Staff Opinions regarding General Alexyeev 
Opinions regarding the change in the Supreme Command Un- 
popularity of the Empress Mistrust of authority Corruption on 
the railways The German cavalry raid on Svyentsyani Retreat 
of the loth Army Distribution of the Russian armies in October, 
1915 Shortage of rifles Shaken morale of the army Deserters 
A young officer's letter to General Alexyeev Opinions of Generals 
Odishelidze and Novitski regarding the Russian soldier General 
Ruzski General Ewarth Supper with General Lebedev . . , v . 324 

Contents xiii 




Composition of the Delegation Situation in Arkhangel Mined in the 

White Sea Three weeks in a bay in Lapland Work in London 
Appeal to Lord Kitchener and interview with Sir William Robertson 
in Paris Visit to the French Front Interview with General Foch 
Short visit to the British Front St. Omer Impressions of the 
Russians regarding Lord Kitchener and Mr. Lloyd George Fate of 
Admiral Russin Adventures of Commander Romanov . . . . 354 




I. The Strategical Deployment in the Eastern Theatre. 
Situation on August 20th, 1914. Scale 1/3,000,000 

II. The Disaster to the 2nd Army. Situation on August 
26th, 1914. Scale 1/1,000,000 

III: South- West Poland and Galicia, showing the line 
occupied by the Russian armies on September 2ist, 
1914, previous to the first German offensive against 
Warsaw. Scale 1/2,000,000 

IV. South-West Poland. To illustrate Chapters III. and 
IV. Scale 1/1,000,000 

V. Approximate position of Russian Armies on October 
2ist, 1914, and the supposed position of enemy 
forces. Scale 1/3,000,000 

VI. Position of the Opposing Forces on November nth, 

1914. Scale 1/3,000,000 

VII. German Offensive against the loth Russian Army 
in East Prussia, February 7th-22nd, 1915. Scale 

VIII. The Prasnish Operation. Situation evening of Feb- 
ruary 25th, 1915. Scale 1/500,000 

IX. Operations on the Narev in February and March, 

1915. Scale 1/1,000,000 

X. Operations in the Russian theatre, May, 1915-Sep- 
t ember, 1915. Scale 1/2,000,000 

SKETCH A. The Lodz Operation. Movements of the 2nd 
Army, November I4th-I7th, 1914. Scale 1/2,000,000 

SKETCH B. Lodz. Situation November I7th-22nd, 1914. Scale 

SKETCH C. The Storming of Kovna, August i6th-i8th, 1915. 
Scale 1/500,000 




is Imperial Highness the Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaievich Frontis. 

Facing page 

Operations Department of the General Staff, G.H.Q., 1914-15 . . 74 

General Marquis de Laguiche and General Ivanov . . . . 74 

Russians collecting German wounded, Orlau-Frankenau, 1914 75 

Sandomir, September, 1914 . . . . . . 75 

Cooking-carts, Lagov, S.W. Poland, 1914 . . . . . . 140 

Railway bridge, N. of Kyeltsi, destroyed by Germans, 1914 . . 140 

Railway demolished near Myekhov, 1914 . . . . . . 141 

Western end of tunnel, N. of Myekhov, demolished by 

Germans, 1914 . . . . . . . . . . 141 

Officers of the 5th Battery, 2nd Guard Artillery Brigade . . 204 

Rodzianko and telephone " sentry " . . . . . . 204 

Headquarters 5th Army, Mogilnitsa, 1915 . . . . . . 205 

Operations Section of the Staff of 5th Army, 1915 . . . . 205 

Second line defences, N. of Lomja, 1915 . . . . . . 254 

Peasant women at work on a position N.E. of Lbmja, 1915 . . 254 

Bridging under difficulties, Novogrod, N. Poland, 1915 . . 255 

Headquarters of 2nd Division of the Guard, 1915 . . . . 255 

Lieutenant Gershelman and Grand Duke Konstantin Kon- 

stantinovich . . . . . . . . . . 300 

Duke of Mecklenburg, Inspector of Artillery of the Guard . . 300 

Staff of the Guard Corps, July 18-31, 1915 . . . . . . 301 

General Bezobrazov thanking 3rd and 4th Guard Rifle Regiments 

for their services, 1915 . . . . . . . 301 

Jewish fugitives escaping from Reiovets, 1915 . . . 310 

Colonel L , a Baltic baron . . . . . . . 310 

Typical faces, II Siberian Corps . . . . . . . 311 

General Balanin, Commander XXVIIth Corps . . . 311 
Count Ignatiev, Commander of Preobrajenski Regiment of the 

Guard . . . . . . . . . . 318 

Baron Budberg, and hole made by German shell . . 318 

General Brjozovski, defender of Osovets . . . . 319 

General Brjozovski and specimens of shell fired into fortress 319 

Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovich distributing crosses, 1915 330 

Packing up to fly before German advance, 1915 . . 330 

Group of Kharkov Opolchenie . . . / . . 331 

Tired-out men of the 5th Rifle Brigade . . . . 331 




UNDER the law in force at the outbreak of war the whole of 
the population of the Russian Empire, amounting to some 
one hundred and eighty millions, with the exception of certain 
races such as the inhabitants of the Grand Duchy of Finland, 
the Mohammedan tribes of the Caucasus and the native popula- 
tion of Russia in Asia, was liable to personal military service 
from the twenty-first to the end of the forty-third year of age. 

The Cossacks and fleet served under special regulations. 

The serving period of twenty-three years was divided as 
follows : 


SERVICE, ist Ban. 2nd Ban. 

Years. Years. Years. Years. 

Infantry arid Ar- 
tillery (except 
Horse Artillery) 3 7 8 5 

Other arms and 
services 476 6 


The number estimated at over one and a half millions of 
males that completed the age of twenty each year was more 
than the resources of the Empire could train, so the incidence of 
the military law was lightened by a liberal grant of exemptions 
for family and educational reasons. Among the men so exempted 
those physically fit for military service were at once enrolled in 
the Opolchenie or national militia, and some of them were called 
up occasionally from civil life for six weeks' elementary training, 

xvii B 

xviii Introduction 

An important law to increase the strength of the army was 
passed by the legislature in secret session in the spring of 1914. 
This law, together with the French law raising the period of 
service from two to three years, constituted the reply of the Dual 
Alliance to the recent increase of the German Army. 

The new law provided through additions to the annual 
contingent for an increase of 468,000 in the peace strength by 
the year 1917. The following table shows the actual figures up 
to 1914 and the proposed figures from 1915 to 1917 : 

Year. Annual Contingent of Estimated Total Peace 

Previous Autumn. Strength on April I4th. 

1911 436,283 About 1,300,000 

1912 4355i3 1,300,000 

1913 43I.97 1 : 1,300,000 

1914 455>ooo , ., 1,320,000 

1915 585.000 1,460,000 

1916 585,000 1,610,000 

1917 585>ooo 1,768,000 

The bill further arranged, in order to cover the dangerous 
period, while the last-joined contingent was undergoing pre- 
liminary training, to retain with the colours for an additional 
three months the men about to pass to the reserve. This pro- 
vision in effect lengthened the colour service of the infantry and 
field artillery from three to three and a quarter years, and of the 
mounted and technical troops from four to four and a quarter years. 

The additional peace strength was to be used to raise a new 
corps for the Western frontier, a new corps for Siberia, a new 
division for the Caucasus and a 4th Rifle Brigade for Finland. It 
was also to provide the personnel of twenty-six new six-squadron 
cavalry regiments and a large increase in the artillery. The 
balance of the additional men not required for these new forma- 
tions was to be allotted to strengthen the peace establishment of 
units near the frontier, and so to help to counteract the dis- 
advantages the Russians suffered from the comparative slowness 
of their mobilisation. 

Introduction xix 

The programme was drawn up mainly with the idea of perfect- 
ing the defences of the Western frontier. Its extent was cal- 
culated on the increase in the German army, and it is significant 
that it was to reach its full effect in 1917, the year when the 
extortionate commercial treaty forced by Germany on a defence- 
less Russia the year after the Japanese war was due for revision. 
All these facts were of course known in Germany, and there can be 
no manner of doubt that the passing of this bill into law was one 
of the potent factors, if not the all-potent factor, which decided 
the German Government to declare war in August, 1914. 

When the Germans struck, only one of the new formations 
was ready the 4th Finland Rifle Brigade. 

For political reasons the territorial system of recruitment was 
never introduced in Russia. The peace strength of units was 
composed of two-thirds Russians and one-third of ' subject 
races," such as Poles, Letts, Esthonians, Georgians, Armenians, 
etc. Neither the Russians nor the ' subject races ' as a rule 
were permitted to serve near their homes, but were drafted to 
units at a distance. On mobilisation, to save time, units com- 
pleted to war strength by incorporating trained men from the 
local populations. 

From 1905 to 1909 the Emperor seems to have hesitated as to 
whether the Chief of the General Staff should be independent of 
the Minister of War as in Germany and Austro-Hungary, or 
subordinate to him as in France. The party favouring the 
concentration of the supreme power in the hands of the Minister 
of War definitely won, and from December, 1909, the Minister 
had the sole right to report to the Emperor on all military matters. 

Under the Minister of War were the various departments and 
directorates. The Supreme Directorate of the General Staff 
contained the Department of the General Quartermaster, which 
corresponded to our Military Operations Directorate, and other 
branches dealing with Military Communications, Topography, 
Organisation and Training, and Mobilisation. 

The Head-Quarter Staff did the work of our Adjutant-General's 

xx Introduction 

and Pensions Branches. The Intendance dealt with supply, 
transport and pay. The Artillery Department attended to the 
armament and training of artillery. The Military Technical 
Directorate dealt with the technical troops. 

The territory of the empire was in peace divided into twelve 
military districts, each under a Commander-in-Ohief : Petrograd, 
Vilna, Warsaw, Kiev, Odessa, Moscow, Kazan, Caucasus, Turki- 
stan, Omsk, Irkutsk and the Pri-Amur. 

There were thirty-seven army corps : the Guard, the Grena- 
dier, Ist-XXVth Line, Ist-IIIrd Caucasian, 1st and Ilnd Turkistan 
and Ist-Vth Siberian. 

The number of infantry divisions was seventy : three Guard, 
four Grenadier, fifty- two Line and eleven Siberian Rifle. 

There were in addition eighteen Rifle Brigades : one Guard, 
five European, four Finland, two Caucasian and six Turkistan. 

There were twenty-four cavalry and Cossack divisions, and in 
addition eleven independent cavalry and Cossack cavalry brigades. 

The normal composition of an army corps was two infantry 
divisions : one division (two six-gun batteries) of light howitzers 
with howitzer park and a battalion of sappers (three sapper and 
two telegraph companies). 

The infantry division consisted normally of four four-battalion 
regiments, a field artillery brigade of six eight-gun batteries and 
an artillery park brigade. 

The rifle brigade contained four two-battalion rifle regiments, 
a rifle artillery division of three eight-gun field batteries and a 
rifle artillery park. 

The regular cavalry division contained four regiments each of 
six squadrons. These were grouped in two brigades, of which the 
first contained the Dragoon and the Lancer regiments and the 
second the Hussar and the Cossack regiments. 

On mobilisation thirty-five infantry reserve divisions were 
formed styled 53rd-84th and I2th-i4th Siberian. The establish- 
ment of these reserve divisions was identical with that of the 

Introduction xxi 

regular divisions. Each of the four infantry regiments of the 
reserve division was formed by the addition of officers and 
men from the reserve to a cadre of twenty-two officers and four 
hundred rank and file, who were detached on mobilisation from 
a parent first-line regiment. 

A number of additional Gossack cavalry divisions were formed 
on mobilisation and other Cossack divisions were added later. 

Russia therefore commenced the war with the equivalent of 
114 infantry and about 36 cavalry divisions. 

Of course, 114 divisions represented a poor effort compared 
with that of Germany and France, for the male population of 
Russia on January 1st, 1910, was 81,980,600, out of whom 
74,262,600 were liable to military service. 

The following is an estimate of the number of men who were 
classified for mobilisation : 

1. Regular army, including reserve; fully-trained 

men from twenty-one to thirty-nine years of 

age 5,000,000 

2. Cossacks ; fully-trained men 200,000 

3. Opolchenie, ist Ban ; fully-trained men from 

thirty-nine to forty-three years 350,000 

4. Opolchenie, ist Ban ; partially-trained men from 

twenty-one to forty-three years, about 3,500,000 

5. Opolchenie, 2nd Ban ; untrained men from twenty- 

one to forty-three years, about 6,000,000 


On mobilisation the whole of the active army, reserve and the 
Cossacks were called out, and the ist Ban of the Opolchenie was 
partially mobilised. Of this total of some five millions there 
was place for only about three millions in the fighting formations. 
The remainder were allotted to line-of-communication formations, 
hospitals, ordnance depots, transport columns and to depot 

xxii Introduction 

The number of depot battalions formed on mobilisation was 
192. Of these, sixteen were affiliated to and fed directly the 
infantry regiments of the Guards. The remainder were un- 
affiliated and sent recruits to replace wastage in any units at the 
front on requisition from the Mobilisation Department of the 
Supreme Directorate of the General Staff. 

The cadres of the depot battalions were furnished by certain 
previously-designated first-line units. Thus some regiments 
provided ten officers a battalion commander, an adjutant and 
eight cadre company commanders. The cadre companies pre- 
pared drafts, 250 strong, for despatch to the front as required. 
The rate of wastage far exceeded the calculations of the General 
Staff, and in 1915 it was found necessary to send drafts to the 
front only partially trained. Difficulties of climate and in the 
provision of accommodation most of the barracks lying in the 
centre of large towns together with the inefficiency of the 
training personnel, interfered with the proper preparation of 
drafts, and the lack of spare billeting accommodation near the 
front, together with the poor carrying capacity of the Russian 
railways, interfered throughout the war with the systematic 
replacement of casualties. 

The Russian infantry and cavalry were armed with the three- 
line rifle of 1891. This weapon, though heavy (9! Ibs., including 
bayonet), was " fool-proof " and stood the test of war well. At 
the outbreak of war it was being resighted to suit the new pointed 

The infantry regiment of four battalions, the rifle regiment 
of two battalions and the cavalry division of twenty-four squad- 
rons had each a machine-gun section of eight Maxims. 

The proportion of artillery was inadequate. The normal 
infantry division had an artillery brigade of six eight-gun batteries 
armed with 3" Q.F. field guns. Most of these were of 
the 1902 model with steel shield and panoramic sight, but some 
units had still the 1900 gun. Each cavalry division had a horse 
artillery division of two six-gun batteries armed with the same 
3* gun of 1902. Both field and horse batteries had two 



wagons per gun. The gun was not a real quick-firer and was 
much too heavy for work with cavalry. 

The mountain batteries, which took the place of field batteries 
in certain units in Finland, the Kiev, Caucasian, Turkistan and 
Siberian Military Districts, were armed, partly with the 2-95" Q.F. 
gun (Model 1909) of Schneider-Danglis pattern, and partly with 
the older 3" Q.F. mountain gun of 1904. Both guns were fitted 
for transport by draught or by pack. 

Each army corps had a light howitzer division containing two 
six-gun batteries of 4-8" Q.F. field howitzers (Model 1909) of 
Krupp pattern. 

The Russian army was only known to possess seven divisions 
of heavy field artillery. Each division contained two four-gun 
batteries of 6" howitzers (Model 1910) and one four-gun 
battery of 4-2 " guns. On mobilisation these seven divisions com- 
menced to expand threefold, i.e., into a total of sixty-three heavy 
batteries. However, many of them were of inferior armament. 

To sum up, the 114 Russian infantry divisions of 14,000 
rifles had only forty-eight field guns each, with a backing for the 
whole army of seventy-five batteries (450 guns) of light howitzers 
as corps artillery and of twenty-one batteries (84 guns) of modern 
heavy guns as army artillery. In other words, there were per 
1,000 rifles only 3-4 field guns, -28 light howitzers and -05 so-called 
heavy field guns. 

It had been decided in the spring of 1914 to commence the re- 
organisation and increase of the artillery, The following table 
shows the existing and the proposed organisation of the arm 
in the normal army corps : 

Field guns, 12 eight-gun 

batteries - 96 

Light howitzers, 2 six-gun 

batteries 12 

Heavy guns o 

1 8 six-gun batteries 

4 six-gun batteries 
3 four-gun batteries 



Total per corps 108 


xxiv Introduction 

The supply of shell was 1,000 per field gun. As in France 
and England, large stocks were not kept because they could not 
have been used in the annual peace practice in time to avoid 
deterioration. The crime of economy in Russia was greater 
owing to the small output of the Russian factories, which could 
not be depended on in an emergency to provide large quantities 
of shell rapidly ; but Russia's excuse for her economy was greater, 
for her revenues were more needed for internal development. As 
in other countries, the General Staff did not expect a long war. 

Russia had no dirigibles of power equal to the German 
Zeppelins. She had at the outbreak of war five up-to-date 
machines of the second class and ten yet smaller machines, none 
of which was of any military value. Nothing was heard of the 
work of any Russian dirigible during the war. 

The number of aeroplanes that were in the country was 320, 
and there were about the same number of trained pilots. A 
large aeroplane with four engines, invented by a M. Sikorski and 
called after a national Siberian hero, " Ilya Muromets," had been 
boomed by the Press. Its trials had not given very satisfactory 
results, but an order had been given in the spring of 1914 for the 
delivery of ten of the type by autumn. The smaller machines 
were of various types, the preference of the authorities having 
been given in 1912 to Nieuports, and in 1913, in succession to 
Farmans, Morane-Saulniers and Duperdussins. It was decided 
in 1913 to order 1,000 aeroplanes for delivery in the three years 
1914-1916 ; 400 of these were ordered from various works in 
Russia for delivery by the autumn of 1914. 

In spite of Imperial and Press encouragement, aeronautics 
in Russia had made no progress as a sport. The membership of 
the All-Russia Aero Club declined from 874 in 1910 to 360 in 1912. 
The Vilna, Caucasus, Nijni-Novgorod, Orenburg and Riga Clubs 
ceased to exist in 1913. In January, 1914, there were only 
eleven aero clubs in Russia compared with one hundred in 
Germany, and these were all maintained by the keenness of some 
single local individual. 

The Government had done its best to encourage the home 
manufacture of flying material, but with only moderate success. 

Introduction xxv 

There were only two engine factories, the Gnome at Moscow, 
with a capacity of perhaps twenty engines a month, and Kalep's 
" Motor Works ' at Riga, with an output of two or three. 

The rapid development of air material during the war left 
the Russian industry still further behind. The Western Allies 
supplied large numbers of machines, but there was a general lack 
of skilled mechanics to put them together and keep them in order, 
and the enemy's command of the air in the Eastern theatre was 
never challenged till " Kerenski's ' offensive in July, 1917, when 
the Russian pilots were assisted by French and British. 

In transport the army of our Allies was far behind its op- 
ponents. There were at the outbreak of war only 679 Govern- 
ment automobiles 259 passenger, 418 transport and 2 ambu- 
lance ; and the number of civilian-owned transport cars suitable 
for military use that it was possible to requisition in Russia in 
the first thirteen months of war was only an additional 475. The 
army in advance of railhead had to depend mainly on horse 
transport. This absorbed an enormous number of men and 
horses, whose feeding further complicated matters ; it blocked the 
roads and by its cumbrousness decreased the mobility of the 
fighting troops. 

A writer in Danzer's Armee Zeitung in November, 1909, 
compared the Russian army of that day to a heavy-weight, 
muscle-bound prize-fighter, who, because of his enormous bulk, 
lacked activity and quickness, and would therefore be at the 
mercy of a lighter but more wiry and intelligent opponent. 

The comparison was extraordinarily true, but the ineffective- 
ness and lack of mobility of the army arose more from the want 
of modern equipment and from inherent national characteristics 
than from merely bad leading and insufficient training. 

Generally speaking, the teaching of the General Staff in the 
peace period from 1905 to 1914 had been devoted to the inculca- 
tion of the spirit of the offensive. All the instructional manuals 
and all the memoranda issued by the twelve District Com- 
manders breathed this spirit. Personal initiative was en- 
couraged, at all events on paper. Meddling with their juniors by 

xxvi Introduction 

senior commanders was strictly forbidden, and commanders of all 
grades at manoeuvres were ordered to remain in the positions 
they would occupy in war. 

The combination of the arms had improved, since in 1910 the 
divisional artillery had been placed under the divisional com- 
mander for tactical training, and since, later, the engineer units 
had been permanently allotted to mixed commands of all arms 
instead of being trained as before in watertight compartments. 
Still, these reforms had been too recent. It was obvious, for 
instance, that there had not been time to weld the artillery and 
infantry of the division into one indivisible whole. Only a few 
weeks before the war writers in the military Press tried to prove 
that the change had been positively harmful in that it had in- 
creased the volume of correspondence. 

In infantry training stress had been laid on instruction in work 
in extended order and in the use of cover. The Musketry Regula- 
tions of 1909 represented a striking advance on those of 1899, and 
the allowance of practice ammunition was increased. 

The cavalry on the whole seemed to have made less progress. 
Dismounted action was still preferred and little attempt was made 
to combine mobility with fire tactics. Scouting was poor. Still, 
the horses and men were of splendid material. 

It was difficult to judge of the quality of artillery training from 
manoeuvres. The guns showed a marked preference for concealed 
positions and little mobility. 

The war in Manchuria had revealed many shortcomings in the 
officer class, both educational and moral, and the task of raising 
the general level was rendered doubly difficult after the war by 
the large number of resignations among the better educated. In 
January, 1910, there was a shortage of no less than 5,123 officers. 

The military administration did what it could to combat the 
evil by a series of measures for improving the position of the 
officer and increasing his professional qualifications. The pay 
of all officers up to and including the rank of lieutenant-colonel 
was raised by amounts varying from 25 per cent, to 35 per 
cent. Their pensions were raised. The flow of promotion was 

Introduction xxvii 

accelerated by the fixing of an age limit for compulsory 
retirement. In a little over one year 341 generals and 400 
colonels were retired as inefficient. 

Schools for the training of officers were formerly of two 
classes, " military " and " yunker," entrance to the latter being 
possible to youths of an inferior educational standard. With 
the idea of levelling up the social class of officers, all the yunker 
schools were changed to military schools. The accommodation 
in all military schools was increased. A third school for field 
artillery and a new school for fortress artillery were started. 
The gunnery courses were extended and a splendid training-ground 
was acquired at Luga. Musketry courses for officers were 
established in many of the military districts. 

These reforms required time to produce their full effect. Mean- 
while the bulk of the regimental officers of the Russian army 
suffered from the national faults. If not actually lazy, they were 
inclined to neglect their duties unless constantly supervised. 
They hated the irksome round of everyday training. Unlike our 
officers, they had no taste for outdoor amusements, and they were 
too prone to spend a holiday in eating rather more and in sleeping 
much more. In the new distribution an attempt had been made 
to avoid the waste of time in the strategical concentration con- 
sequent on the lack of railways by quartering in peace a larger 
proportion of the army in the immediate neighbourhood of 
various frontiers. The monotony of life in these frontier stations 
without the relaxation of out-of-door amusements can be imag- 
ined. In Termez, for instance, on the frontier of Afghanistan, 
there was not a single tennis-court, though the garrison numbered 
from 150 to 200 officers. It is small wonder that there were 
suicides among the officers of this garrison every year. 

The great majority of vacancies for regimental commander in 
the infantry and cavalry of the line were filled by officers of the 
General Staff or Guard Corps, or by those who had been detached 
on extra-regimental duty. The natural result was that the 
men with a tendency to laziness consoled themselves with the 
excuse that it was no use working, and such men, though passed 
over repeatedly, were allowed to remain till they qualified for 

xxviii Introduction 

pension, meanwhile blocking promotion for their more capable 
and energetic juniors. 

Work was badly distributed between the links of the chain of 
command. The corps, brigade and battalion commanders had 
little to do, while the commanders of the division, regiment and 
company were overwhelmed by administrative detail. Letter- 
writing and report scribbling " that vice," as one writer put it, 
' that in the Russian army drowns every promising reform in a 
sea of ink " occupied far too much of the combatant officer's 
time, and left him wearied and listless a sucked orange when 
he came to his real work, the preparation of his command for 
war. In 1913 a battery commander in Central Asia stated that 
the number of letters despatched from his battery in the year was 
4,500, adding that there " should not be more than 3,500, but the 
Intendance Officer was very conscientious " ! Another battery 
commander from the Kazan Military District stated that his 
battery sent out 8,000 each year. 

The best educated officers passed into the Nikolas Academy 
or Staff College very young, before they had time to learn their 
regimental work, much less the management of men. Once 
they had passed the test of the three years' study there, their 
careers were made if they refrained from quarrelling with some 
influential superior, and they had little further incentive to work. 
An article in the Russian military paper, the Russki Invalid, in 
1912, described the life of the average General Staff officer. They 
left the Academy usually with six to eight years' service. They 
were then supposed to command a company or squadron for two 
years, but seldom did. The next four years were spent in a 
subordinate position on the staff of a division or corps or fortress, 
and the young officer was out of touch with troops except at 
manoeuvres. " Six years after leaving the Academy, i.e., when 
he has twelve to fourteen years' service, the General Staff officer 
becomes a lieutenant-colonel. He is then generally transferred 
to the Staff of his district or to army headquarters, but his work 
remains the same. He never decides anything and never ex- 
presses an opinion of his own, but spends his time in collating the 
opinions of others. The only qualities of his character that have 

Introduction xxix 

a chance of development are those of self-control and a highly 
disciplined respect for those superiors on whom he knows that his 
future promotion depends." Before appointment to the com- 
mand of a regiment usually when he had twenty-three to twenty- 
six years' service the General Staff officer was only in more or 
less direct contact with the men for one further period four 
months in command of a battalion or as administrative officer 
in a regiment of cavalry. In spite of the pessimism of this 
article, it is fair to add that the General Staff officer proved him- 
self in the war to be the cream of the army. 

The regimental officers represented a weaker element not so 
much the regular regimental officers, who, as in other countries, 
were mostly killed during the first years of war but the officers 
of reserve who were called up from civil life on mobilisation and 
who reflected all the faults from a national point of view of the 
Russian " Intelligentsya." These were men who on account of 
exceptional educational qualifications had been excused the full 
period of conscript service and had served as " short-term volun- 
teers." Previous to 1912 they were divided into two classes ; 
the first class with superior educational qualifications served one 
year only ; the second class served two years, but both classes 
served as privates or N.O.O.'s only, while on mobilisation they 
were required to fill the position of officer. By the new Law of 
Military Service of 1912 all short-term volunteers were com- 
pelled to serve for two years, which might be reduced to one and 
a half or one and two-third years on their passing an examination 
qualifying them for the position of officer. Some of these men 
proved splendid material, but very many hated the military life 
and were far too lazy to enforce discipline or look after the comfort 
of their men. 

The large numbers of young officers that the military schools 
passed out during the war proved better material, but their 
keenness often disappeared at the front since they found no one 
to teach them. 

In the matter of non-commissioned officers the Russian army 
was still more hopelessly behind its enemies. 

xxx Introduction 

In short-service armies it is necessary to induce a number of 
N.C.O.'s to re-engage for extended service in order to provide men 
of the same class as the conscripts, but of greater experience and 
authority, to assist officers in training, administration and tactical 

The number of such men in the Russian army had long been 
insufficient. At the commencement of the year 1904 only about 
one-seventh of the N.C.O.'s were re-engaged men, the remainder 
being serving conscripts. In 1905 substantial inducements were 
offered to induce men to re-engage ; their pay was trebled, they 
were given a bounty of 106 on the completion of ten years' re- 
engaged service and promised a pension of 10 on the completion 
of thirteen years. In 1908 and subsequent years arrangements 
were made for the reservation of a large number of Government 
posts to provide for their comfortable livelihood on return to 
civil life. 

In 1911 a " second class of N.C.O.'s of extended service " was 
inaugurated. The idea was to provide eventually six re-engaged 
N.C.O.'s, three of each class, for each company, squadron and 
battery. It was hoped to attain an establishment of 24,000 of 
the second class by the year 1915. 

The number of N.C.O.'s of the first class serving in 1911 was 
estimated by the Austrian General Staff at 28,500 (Streffleur, 
1911, p. 1752), but this estimate was certainly an exaggeration. 
Of the second class there were 18,535 N.C.O.'s and 2,035 lance- 
corporals and bombardiers serving at the beginning of 1914. 

The Ministry of War had accomplished much, but not enough. 
Press articles in 1913 pointed out that while the Russian company 
had only five N.C.O.'s of extended service, three of the first class 
and two of the second, all the N.C.O.'s of the German and Japanese 
company and 75 per cent, of those of the French com- 
pany were re-engaged men. 

The conscript N.C.O.'s had, of course, the same faults as the 
men, whom, moreover, they lacked the authority to lead. The 
Russian soldier requires leading more than any soldier in the 
world, and the lack of officers and N.C.O.'s of quality was felt 
throughout the war. 

Introduction xxxi 

Previous to the war friendly observers had reason to hope 
that the rank and file of the Russian army might possess certain 
valuable qualities non-existent in other armies. The proportion 
of town-bred men was less than elsewhere. Many of the re- 
servists had had experience of modern war. Owing to the rigour 
of the climate and the lower general civilisation, the Russian 
soldier was more fitted to stand privation and should have been 
more fitted to stand nerve strain than the men of Central Europe. 
The relations between officers and men were far better than in 
Germany. The simple faith of the Russian soldier in God and 
the Emperor seemed to provide an overwhelmnig asset to the 
leader with sufficient imagination to realise its value. 

Frenchmen have freely acknowledged that the Russian army 
administration had made more progress during the eight years 
1906-1914 than their countrymen accomplished in a similar 
period following the disasters of 1870-71, but more time was 
required to recreate an army that reflected all the faults as well 
as the qualities of the nation. 

The raw material of the army still suffered from want of 
education and of individuality. The proportion of literates 
among the reservists was said to be increasing. Of the 1903 
contingent, only 39 per cent, could read and write, but 
before the war the percentage was said to have risen to 50. It 
is believed that both these figures were grossly exaggerated, but 
in any case such smattering of education as the recruit possessed 
had not in any way expanded his mind or made of him a civilised, 
thinking being. 

It was impossible to hope for individuality in recruits, 75 per 
cent, of whom were drawn from the peasant class. The Tartar 
domination and serfdom seem to have robbed them of all natural 
initiative, leaving only a wonderful capacity for patient en- 
durance. Initiative might have been fostered by individual 
training, but the company officers were handicapped by the 
large number of official holidays, ceremonial parades and guards, 
which it was calculated left only one year out of the three years' 
colour service for the actual training of the infantry soldier. 

The men had the faults of their race. They were lazy and 

xxxii Introduction 

happy-go-lucky, doing nothing thoroughly unless driven to it. 
The bulk of them went willingly to the war in the first instance, 
chiefly because they had little idea what war meant. They 
lacked the intelligent knowledge of the objects they were fighting 
for and the thinking patriotism to make their morale proof against 
the effects of heavy loss ; and heavy loss resulted from un- 
intelligent leading and lack of proper equipment. 

It must have been evident to the more foreseeing members of 
the Russian General Staff that even at the first clash of arms the 
Russian forces, where numerically only equal to the German, 
would be at a disadvantage. They calculated, however, on their 
own weight of numbers in combination with the dash of the French 
to overcome the enemy. As for the possibility of a long war, the 
Russian General Staff, no more than the Austrian, French or 
German Staffs, ever thought of it. 

A long war spelt for Russia inevitable disaster, for it tested 
every fibre and muscle of the national frame. The shortcomings 
of the army might have passed unnoticed if the Allies had gained 
a decisive victory in the West in the first six months of war. Such 
a victory was not gained because Germany's preparation for war 
was more thorough than France's, and because the politicians of 
Great Britain of all parties had been deaf to the soldiers' warnings 
and had refused to organise the national defence. The Russian 
army worked with rare self-sacrifice and accomplished as much as 
we had any right to expect. No one with any knowledge of 
Russia ever imagined that the decision could come in the Eastern 
theatre. The false hopes which our censorship allowed the man 
in the street to place on the Russian " steam-roller " were mere 
self-deception and were never shared by the well-informed. 

The strain of a long war, and essentially a war of machinery, 
was immeasurably greater for Russia than for England, France 
or Germany, owing to her lack of communications, the backward- 
ness of her industry, the incompetence of her Government and 
the absence of real self-sacrificing patriotism in the masses of the 

Russia possessed only about half a mile of railway to one 

Introduction xxxiii 

hundred square miles as compared with about twenty miles of 
line to the same area in England. She had practically no coast- 
wise traffic and her magnificent inland waterways, which should 
have relieved much of the pressure, were undeveloped and mis- 
managed. Out of the many Russian ports which normally 
served her import and export trade, there remained at the out- 
break of war only two Arkhangel and Vladivostok andArk- 
hangel was closed for half the year. Arkhangel was immediately 
served by only a single narrow-gauge line and was some 2,000 
miles from the battle-line. Vladivostok was 8,000 miles. During 
the first three years of war the average arrivals of ships in Russian 
ports numbered 1,250 annually, while the arrivals in ports of the 
United Kingdom numbered on an average 2,200 weekly. 

Russia's main trade in peace had passed in and out through 
the now closed Baltic and Black Seas. With every desire to help 
their ally, Russia's friends were handicapped by the inadequacy 
of equipment of the ports that remained open and the poorness 
of the land communications that led from them to the front. 
Great Britain had now to pay in the weakening of Russia's effort 
for the policy that had denied her an outlet on the open sea. It 
is true that Russia could not have fought on for more than twelve 
months if the command of the sea had been in the enemy's hands, 
but she received less benefit from our possession of that command 
than any of her allies. 

A very few weeks of war proved to all the combatants that 
their initial stocks of shell and materials of war generally were 
insufficien : to ensure a decision. Germany, France and England 
diverted their thousands of factories to war-work. But Russia, 
with her 180 millions inhabitants, had roughly only one factory 
to Great Britain's 150. She had not the machinery or the tools 
or the trained personnel. Machinery and tools could only be 
obtained from America, where the Allies had already swamped 
the market. Even if shipped from America there remained the 
difficulty of their delivery at industrial centres in Russia. 

The Government was hide-bound and did not rise to the 
emergency. It was jealous alike of the advice of the Allies and 
of Russian patriots outside the circle of the bureaucracy. It 


xxxiv Introduction 

persistently refused to introduce industrial conscription, which 
had been early adopted by Germany and France. 

The division of classes, the system of a bureaucracy on the 

German model, but without German honesty and efficiency, 

imposed on a people without education and patriotism had 

produced a state edifice too rotten to resist any prolonged strain. 

The Russian peasant population is essentially pacific and the 

least Imperialistic in the world. It never understood why it 

fought. It fought well on many occasions when the leading was 

moderate. It would have continued to fight well if it had had 

some measure of success, but it soon lost trust in the Government 

and the leading. A higher type of human animal was required 

to persevere to victory through the monotony of disaster. That 

the Russian type was so low, the Russian Government was largely 

to blame, for it had discouraged education and had allowed the 

brandy monopoly for many years to sap the character and grit 

of the people. The Government of the French Republic would 

have been wiser from a purely selfish point of view to have 

pressed the Emperor to introduce some simple form of universal 

primary education on patriotic lines, and to develop the home 

factories for the production of material of war. No one, however, 

believed in a long war, and the one idea was to speed up the 

Russian mobilisation by the construction of new railways and to 

increase the number of new cadres to enable Russia to bring her 

weight to bear as soon as possible. No doubt, too, any suggestion 

regarding education would have been regarded as " unjustifiable 

interference in the internal affairs of an allied and friendly 


Russia's allies had to pay dearly for the low mental develop- 
ment of the mass of the Russian population. From the very 
commencement of the war the Russians surrendered in thousands, 
and Russian prisoners freed hundreds of thousands of Germans 
from agriculture and industry to man the trenches in the West. 

For a long war Russia was outclassed in every factor of success 
except in the number of her fighting men and in their mollusc- 
like quality of recovery after severe defeat. 

Many Russians were fully aware of their national shortcomings. 

Introduction xxxv 

There was universal joy when it was known that Great Britain 
had entered the war as Russia's ally Great Britain, who was 
always called by the peasants " Anglichanka," or the English- 
woman, in reminiscence of the long reign of Queen Victoria. Soon 
after the revolution of March, 1917, a " soldier deputy " told the 
writer that at the beginning of the war a fellow peasant from the 
Urals had said to him that " he was glad that the ' Anglichanka ' 
was with Russia, because first she was clever and would help ; 
secondly, if things went badly with Russia, she was good and she 
would help ; thirdly, if it came to making peace, she was deter- 
mined and would not give way." 

With the Russian Army 






ONE delightful thing about the appointment of Military 
Attache is that he can take his annual leave when he likes, 
provided his private plans fit in with the ideas of the Ambassador 
and the War Office. Since 1911, when I was appointed to 
Petrograd, I had always gone home in June and returned at the 
end of July in time for the annual manoeuvres of the Petrograd 
Military District. 

To these manoeuvres accredited foreign officers were always 
invited as the guests of the Emperor : we lunched and dined at 
his table, used his motor-cars, rode his horses, and attended with 
him nightly performances at the local theatre ; we saw much 
martial spectacle but very little serious training for modern war 

In June, 1914, the Ambassador made me postpone my leave 
till the end of the month to be present during the official visit of 
our battle-cruiser squadron to Russian waters. I got away at 
the end of June, but the Ambassador had to remain without a 
day's leave till January, 1918. 


38 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

On my way home the German paper I bought in Berlin told of 
the murder of the Grand Duke Franz Ferdinand and his wife. 
This, however, did not seem necessarily to mean war. The news 
of the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia was more threatening, but 
I read this in Ulster, where we were all too deeply engrossed in 
thoughts for our political future to consider possible European 
complications. It was recognised, of course, that the situation 
was critical, but it had been critical in 1908 and 1912 and nothing 
had come of it. Like nine out of every ten officers, I had believed 
for eighteen years in the reality of the German menace, but one's 
fears had been treated with such consistent contempt by the 
great and wise that we had begun to hope that we might after 
all prove to be the lunatics we were represented to be, and that 
Germany might forbear from pushing matters to extremes. 

At breakfast on Monday, July 27th, I received telegraphic 
orders from the War Office that the Ambassador wished me at 
once to return to my post. I played a round of golf that had 
been previously arranged and crossed that night from Belfast. 
On the boat was a submarine officer who had also been recalled. 
He was a fellow Ulsterman, and we talked till late, and more of 
Ulster than of the European situation. Next day I said good-bye 
at Euston to poor Johnnie Gough. He put me a question or two 
about the Russian army, but in his mind, too, Ulster was upper- 

At the War Office I could get no advice as to how to return 
to Russia, but I made up my mind to risk the journey across 
Germany and cancelled the passage taken provisionally from 
Hull to Helsingfors. Next morning at Victoria the booking-clerk 
said he had already booked several passengers to Petrograd. 
The journey indeed was most comfortable. At Berlin we read 
in the German papers of Russia's partial mobilisation, and then 
knew that war was inevitable. Still, a polite German porter 
helped to telegraph to the frontier to retain a coupe in the Russian 

From the train no men could be seen at work in the fields, yet, 
on the other hand, no troop trains were passed. The big bridges 
at Dirshau and Marienburg were strongly guarded by infantry, 

August, 1914 39 

most of whom were in the old uniform along with a few in the 
new " field grey." 

In East Prussia generally there were more signs of excitement. 
Prussian officers chatted nervously, and one of them left his 
pocket-book behind when he alighted from the train. 

Once safe across the Russian frontier the many Russian 
passengers, who had hitherto been remarkably silent, took no 
pains to conceal their sentiments. One of them lamented that 
he had not had a bomb to drop on Dirshau bridge ! He drew 
consolation from the fact that the bridge guards were not all in 
field service uniform proving that those ' ' pigs of Germans ' ' at 
any rate were not ready to the last gaiter-button. 

At Kovna at midnight we heard of the general Russian 

I arrived in Petrograd on the morning of Friday, July 3ist. 
Germany declared war on Russia at 6 p.m. the following day 
Saturday, August ist. 

The mobilisation went smoothly and the number of men called 
up in comparison with the partial mobilisation of 1904 caused 
general astonishment. 

The spirit of the people appeared excellent. All the wine- 
shops were closed and there was no drunkenness a striking 
contrast to the scenes witnessed in 1904. Wives and mothers 
with children accompanied the reservists from point to point, 
deferring the hour of parting, and one saw cruel scenes, but the 
women cried silently and there were no hysterics. The men 
generally were quiet and grave, but parties cheered one another 
as they met in the street. 

The war was undoubtedly popular with the middle classes, 
and even the strikers, who Russians believed had been subsidised 
with German money, at once on mobilisation returned to work. 
The Warsaw Press summoned the Poles to rally to the defence of 
Slavdom. A mass of a quarter of a million people uncovered in 
the Palace Square before the sacred eikons while the Emperor 
swore in the words of Alexander I. that he would never make 
peace as long as an enemy remained on Russian soil. Patriotic 
crowds cheered nightly in front of the British and French 

40 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

Embassies and the Serbian Legation. The mass of the people had 
taken it for granted that the English would " come in," and 
remarks in the streets and in tramcars on August 2nd and 3rd 
about the delay of our Government were unpleasant to hear. 
There can be little doubt that if Great Britain had declared for 
neutrality the Embassy would have been stormed by the rabble, 
as was the German Embassy. Some of us were to live in 
Russia to see the day, three and a half years later, when our 
Embassy was once more in danger from the fickle crowd because, 
having taken up Russia's quarrel, we were determined to see the 
matter through. 

But in those wonderful August days of 1914 our popularity 
was unbounded once the news came that the Government had 
taken up the challenge and joined in the great adventure. The 
morning the telegram arrived the Ambassador called for me with 
Grenf ell, the Naval Attache, and took us to a service at the French 
church, where there were representatives of all the Allies, and 
where the cure in a moving address called upon God to take to 
Himself the souls of those who were even now giving up their lives 
for their country and to protect all civilisation from Germany, 
' who always sought to humiliate those whom she conquered/' 

The next few days passed quickly. I handed over my office 

in Petrograd to Captain James Blair, of the Gordon Highlanders, 

and prepared to leave Petrograd on the train of the Grand Duke 

Nikolas Nikolaievich, who had been appointed Commander-in- 


Blair was to be my assistant as long as Russia remained at 
war. He proved the best of fellows and the most loyal of 
helps. It was a lucky chance that found an officer of his 
ability and energy on language leave in Russia at the outbreak 
of war. 

Information soon came that Sir John Hanbury Williams was 
being sent out from England to be attached to the Russian armies. 
As he was much senior to me, I had naturally to give him my place 
at G.H.Q., but the Ambassador decided that pending his arrival 
I must leave Petrograd as British representative in the Grand 
Duke's train with the French and Serbian Military Attaches, 

August, 1914 41 

General Marquis de Laguiche and Colonel Leonkevich, who had 
not been superseded by their Governments. 

Though I had been longer in Russia, Laguiche had a stronger 
position before the war as the representative of Russia's ally. 
He had an excellent knowledge of the German and Austrian 
armies, as he had served in both countries as Military Attache 
before coming to Petrograd. He was a good colleague and a 
big gentleman, and we always worked together and helped one 
another all we could. 

The forecast of the Russian General Staff regarding the 
enemy's course of action was fairly accurate. It was thought that 
the Germans with five first-line corps and some reserve divisions 
would confine themselves to the defensive in the Eastern theatre 
pending the arrival of reinforcements after the decision in the 
West. It was calculated that the Austrians would use ten corps 
of first-line troops to form three armies against Russia, that their 
main concentration would be completed about August 2ist, 
probably on the line Tarnopol-Lemberg-Jaroslau, and that they 
would strike north-east from that line. 

The trans-frontier raids of the first few days were of little 
importance. Russian cavalry penetrated a short distance into 
East Prussia, west from Eydkuhnen and north from Bialla ; it 
cut the railways between Soldau and Neidenburg. German 
infantry occupied Vrotslavsk, Kalish and Bendin in South-west 

We were told to join the Grand Duke's train at Peterhof by 
midnight on the I3th, so had to leave Petrograd by the 9.10 

I took with me my civilian servant " Maxim," who had been 
with me for over three years and had served my two predecessors 
in the post of Military Attache. At the station I was joined by 
an orderly detailed by the General Staff one Ivan Gribkov 
who had been a ladies' tailor in civil life, and who remained with 
me till I left Russia, proving himself an excellent servant and 
friend in every way. 

Laguiche and Leonkevich travelled with me and we joined 
old friends in Colonels Skalon, the chief of the German section, 

42 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

and Samoilo, the chief of the Austrian section. They were 
intimate friends before the war. Skalon was of German extrac- 
tion from the Baltic Provinces. He was a man of few words. 
He shot himself at Brest Litovsk in 1917 rather than take part 
in the Bolshevik betrayal. Samoilo was a little Russian with 
a loud voice and a keen sense of humour. He now holds an im- 
portant Bolshevik command. In politics before the war Samoilo 
was thought to be the most reactionary member of the General 
Staff. - .> 

At Peterhof the Grand Duke Nikolas's Staff was assembling. 
We met General Yanushkevich, the Chief of the Staff, and General 
Danilov, the General Quartermaster. 

Yanushkevich had seen no service in the field. He had early 
joined the secretariat of the Ministry of War, and returned to 
employment there after passing the Academy. He had com- 
manded a company for a short time but never a battalion. He 
is said to have attracted the Emperor's attention when on guard 
as a young captain at the Palace, and his selection to be Com- 
mandant of the Academy in 1913 and his promotion to the Chief 
of the General Staff on Jilinski's appointment to be Governor of 
Warsaw in the spring of 1914 excited general surprise. He gave 
the impression rather of a courtier than of a soldier. As Chief of 
the General Staff in peace, he became, in accordance with the plan 
of mobilisation, Chief of the Staff of the army in the field. 

Danilov, nicknamed " the Black " to distinguish him from a 
host of other Danilovs, was the hardest worker and the strongest 
brain in the staff. In many years' service in the Supreme 
Directorate of the General Staff he had made a study of the strategy 
of the western frontier. He was a stern, silent man, a great 
disciplinarian and exacting chief. Throughout the war I was to 
hear many complaints from Russian officers of his " hide-bound 
strategy/' but no one ever suggested the name of an officer who 
could have done better. 

Many wives had come to see us off. Madame Danilov had 
journeyed from Vinnitsa twenty-four hours in peace, but now 
a five days' pilgrimage. Madame Samoilo was saying good-bye 
to her husband. Countess Mengden was helping her husband, 

August, 1914 43 

one of the Grand Duke's A.D.C.'s, into his Sam Browne belt. 
General Gulevich, the Chief of the Staff of the Petrograd Military 
District, was there, and General Van der Fliet, a grand old soldier 
who had assisted at the capture of Tashkent in 1868, and who had 
now succeeded to the command of the district which the Grand 
Duke had held before mobilisation. We were presented to the 
Grand Duke Peter, who accompanied the brother to whom he is 
devoted. The train started at midnight. 


Friday, August 14^, 1914. GRAND DUKE'S TRAIN. 

Awoke to find myself on the Vitebsk line north of Dno. 
The train is moving very slowly and we only passed one 
train during the day that containing the personnel of 
the General Staff for G.H.Q. which left St. Petersburg 
yesterday some hours before we did. 

At lunch the Grand Duke Peter sat at a small table 
with Laguiche on his right hand and the Serbian Military 
Attache and me opposite. At the other side of the wagon 
the Grand Duke Nikolas spoke across to our table a good 
deal. To me he spoke of sport, and said he was determined 
to go to England for shooting after the war. He told me 
how fond he was of Sir Montague Gerard and Sir Ian 
Hamilton. After lunch he took Laguiche, Yanushkevich 
and Danilov with him to discuss military matters. 

At 7 p.m. Prince Kotsube, one of the aides, came to 
fetch me to the Grand Duke. He brought a message that 
I v/as to bring my pipe with me, for we would go in straight 
to dinner after our talk, and he specially hoped I would 
smoke my pipe after dinner. 

He told me how he hated the Germans because one 
could never trust them ; that this war had been forced 
upon us and that we must crush Germany once and for 
all to enable the nations to live in peace ; the German 
Empire must cease to exist and be divided up into a group 
of states, each of which would be happy with its own little 

44 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

He spoke of the credulity of the Germans and of their 
stupidity. A Russian lady had gone to see the German 
Ambassador's wife, the Countess Portales, the day before 
Germany's declaration of war and had found her packing. 
Countess Portales had said that she knew for a certainty 
that the day after the declaration of war both the Winter 
Palace and the Hermitage would be blown up. On the 
contrary, reports from all parts of Russia proved the 
popularity of the war such a contrast to conditions prior 
to the war against Japan. 

The Grand Duke said he was not a diplomat but always 
said straight out what he thought. He hoped we would be 
good friends. When he spoke of the alleged barbarities 
committed by the Germans at Chenstokhov and Kalish, 
he became excited and gesticulated vehemently. He is 
honest and shrewd and has evidently force of character. 

I mustered up courage as we were leaving to go out to 
dinner, and told him how frightened I was that when 
General Hanbury- Williams came I might be sent back to 
St. Petersburg. He said that he quite understood that I 
did not want to sit, as the Russians say, " with folded 
arms/' but that it was impossible for him to have two- 
British officers at Headquarters. I said I wanted, on the 
contrary, to go forward, and he told me, when the time 
came, to ask him, and he promised I should go where I 
wished. This was delightful and just what I wanted. 

I asked Maxim if he was keen on going to the front. 
He said if there was danger, he, for his part, did not wish 
to be killed and would rather return to St. Petersburg. 

We hear from Prince Golitzin, one of the aides, that our 
present destination is Baranovichi. 

Saturday, August i$th, 1914. GRAND DUKE'S TRAIN. 

The train, by the Grand Duke's special order, is running 
in accordance with the ordinary troop-train programme in 
order to avoid interference with the concentration. Con- 
sequence is that we take fifty-seven hours to cover a 

August, 1914 45 

distance that the usual express would cover in twenty-five. 
This is in striking contrast to the system in 1904, when the 
frequent Imperial specials much interfered with the 
transport of troops to the Far East. We changed on to 
the Bologoe-Syedlets line in the night. Large numbers 
of empty trains passed during the day, going east, all of 
one hundred axles, running irregularly, but sometimes with 
intervals of only twenty minutes. We passed five trains 
running west, chiefly loaded with transport. One train 
contained a battalion of Opolchenie in civilian clothes with 
the cross on the front of their caps. Our train moves at 
only about eighteen versts an hour exclusive of stoppages, 
which are long and frequent (five hours at Lida, for 

The meals on the train are well cooked but simple. 
We lunch at 12.30 three courses and dine at 7.30 : 
soup, joint, and sweet, a glass of vodka, claret or Madeira, 
and a glass of cognac with our coffee. The Grand Duke 
sat on till 10 p.m., talking to Yanushkevich, but he told 
those who had work to do not to wait, and General Danilov, 
Skalon and Samoilo at once went out. 

We arrived at Baranovichi at 9 a.m. on Sunday, the i6th, and 
were received on the platform by General Jilinski, who had been 
appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Armies of the North- West 
Front, by the Grand Duke Kiril, who with other naval officers 
formed part of the headquarters staff, and by a few representatives 
of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. One of the latter, Muraviev, 
whom I afterwards got to know well, remarked to Kotsube : 
You soldiers ought to be very pleased that we have arranged 
such a nice war for you." Kotsube said : " We must wait and 
see whether it will be such a nice war after all." 

General Jilinski, like the Minister of War, General Sukhom- 
linov, commenced his service in the Chevalier Guard Regiment. 
He served on the staff of the Viceroy Alexyeev at the commence- 
ment of the Japanese war. He later commanded a cavalry 

46 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

division in Poland, and was appointed Chief of the General Staff 
in 1910. In this position he had a share in the working out of the 
most recent army reforms. In the spring of 1914 he had suc- 
ceeded General Skalon as Governor of Warsaw. He was an 
official of the cut-and-dried type and was generally unpopular. 

Baranovichi was in peace-time the headquarters of three 
railway battalions, and our train was shunted on to a siding which 
had been specially prepared in the midst of the fir-woods. The 
staff all lived and fed in the trains, but the house of the Com- 
mander of the Railway Brigade was fitted up as an office for the 
use of the General-Quartermaster's Department. This Depart- 
ment, which comprised the Operations, Intelligence and " General ' 
Sections, was manned by about twenty General Staff officers. 

The Major-General in charge of Military Communications had 
his office at some little distance. His staff was much smaller 
perhaps one or two officers. 

Little news arrived and we had not much to do. Laguiche 
was in despair. He said : ' Pensez que moi au bout de 38 ans 
de service, apres avoir tant reve a la revanche dois rester ici 
quand 1'heure a sonne." In fact, anything less warlike than our 
surroundings it would be difficult to imagine. We were in the 
midst of a charming fir-wood and everything was quiet and 
peaceful. We were both astonished at the practical sense of the 
Russians who had chosen such a quiet place for their headquarters, 
and who went to work with complete calmness and an entire 
absence of fuss. 

However, two days of walks and rides in the fir-woods was 
enough, and we were glad to leave in the Grand Duke's train at 
midnight on the i8th to visit the Headquarters of the South- 
western Front at Rovno. 

It may be convenient to give here some account of the Russian 
dispositions, though such details were neither at this time nor 
later communicated officially, but were gathered laboriously from 
various friends at odd times. 

The original Russian plan of campaign was to act on the 
defensive towards Germany and to assume the offensive against 

August, 1914 47 

Austria. To hold back Germany, the ist Army under Ren- 
nenkampf was to be formed in the Vilna Military District, while 
the 4th, 5th, 3rd and 8th Armies were to operate against 
Austria. The 2nd Army was to assemble opposite Warsaw as a 
reserve to the southern armies and the gth Army was to be held 
in readiness at Petrograd for the defence of the capital 
against possible landings. 

This plan was changed after mobilisation with the sole object 
of helping the Allies in the West. The 2nd Army was sent north, 
and was replaced on the middle Vistula by the Qth Army from 

In the first instance, therefore, six armies were formed on the 
western frontier. The North- Western Group consisted of the ist 
Army under General Rennenkampf, which was deployed in the 
Vilna Military District to operate west into East Prussia, and the 
2nd Army, which deployed on the Narev under General Sam- 
sonov, late Governor-General of Turkistan, to advance north 
into East Prussia and in co-operation with the ist Army to turn 
the Masurian Lakes. These two armies were controlled from 
Byelostok by General Jilinski, who had General Oranovski as his 
Chief of Staff. 

The South- Western Group contained four armies and was 
directed from Rovno by General Ivanov, with General Alexyeev 
as his Chief of Staff. The two armies on the right had at first a 
passive task. They deployed facing south along the Kholm- 
Lyublin-Novo Alexandriya railway. These were the 4th under 
Baron Salza, the Commander of the Kazan Military District, and 
the 5th under General Plehve, the Commander of the Moscow 
Military District. Further south-east the 3rd Army under Gen- 
eral Ruzski, late second in command to General Ivanov in the 
Kiev Military District, formed about Dubno, and the 8th Army 
under General Brusilov, late commander of the Xllth Corps, 
gathered round Proskurov. The 3rd and 8th Armies were to 
take the offensive at once against the communications of the 
Austrian armies, which were known to be preparing to advance 
into Southern Poland. 

As the gth Army under General Lechitski, late Commander of 

48 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

the Pri-Amur Military District, moved forward from Petrograd, 
it was replaced by the so-called 6th Army, consisting of the few 
troops that remained in or near the capital. 

The troops left at Odessa were called the 7th Army and were 
supposed to watch the Black Sea coast. 

The composition of the six front-line armies on the western 
frontier was as follows : 


IST ARMY : Commander, General Rennenkampf. Chief of 

Staff, General Miliant. 
ist and 2nd Guard Cavalry Divisions ; ist, 2nd and 3rd 

Divisions of the Cavalry of the Line. 
Illrd, XXth and IVth Corps. ' : 

2ND ARMY : Commander, General Samsonov. Chief of Staff, 

General Postovski. 
4th, 6th and I5th Cavalry Divisions. 
Ilnd, Vlth, Xlllth, XVth and XXIIIrd Corps. 


4TH ARMY : Commander, Baron Salza. 
I3th and I4th Cavalry Divisions. 
XVIth, XlVth, Illrd Caucasian and Grenadier Corps. 
STH ARMY : Commander, General Plehve. Chief of Staff, 

General Miller. 

7th Cavalry Division ; ist Don Cossack Cavalry Division. 
, XXVth, XlXth, Vth and XVIIth Corps. 
3RD ARMY : Commander, General Ruzski. Chief of Staff, 

General Dragomirov. 
9th, loth and nth Cavalry Divisions. 
, ; XXIst, Xlth, Xth and IXth Corps. 
STH ARMY : Commander, General Brusilov. 

2nd Combined Cossack Cavalry Division ; I2th Cavalry 

Vllth, Vlllth, Xllth and XXIVth Corps. 

These six armies took all the first-line corps of European 
Russia except the Guard, Ist and XVIIIth from Petrograd, 

August, 1914 49 

which were earmarked for the gth Army and the XXI Ind, which 
had been held back for a few days in Finland. 

From Trans-Caucasia, Turkistan and Siberia the Ilnd Cau- 
casian, 1st Turkistan and 1st, Ilnd and Illrd Siberian Corps were 
already en route, to be followed later by the Vth and IVth Siberian. 
The 1st Caucasian Corps remained in the Caucasus and was joined 
there by the Ilnd Turkistan Corps. 

To continue the Diary : 

Tuesday, August i8th, 1914. TRAIN AT ROVNO. 

We left Baranovichi soon after midnight and ran south 
to Rovno, where the train arrived at 9 a.m. General 
Ivanov, in command of the armies of the South- West Front, 
and his Chief of Staff, General Alexyeev, met the Grand 
Duke and were closeted with him for two and a half hours. 
During this time we walked up and down or stood about 
the platform. The Grand Duke's train started back for 
Baranovichi at 11.30, and Laguiche, Leonkevich and I 
remained with Colonel Assanovich, of the General Staff as 
bear-leader. The Grand Duke Peter gave me a large flask 
of brandy just before the train started and told me to 
bring it back empty. It was an especially kind thought, 
and I did not really appreciate its meaning till we lunched 
with Ivanov at the station at i p.m. 

I had met Ivanov in Kiev one and a half years before. 
He is a Russian type of General beloved by his men, with 
whom he continually converses. He is simple and un- 
pretentious in his manner a contrast to General Jilinski. 
Alexyeev I had not previously met. He had worked his 
way up from humble beginnings by sheer merit. He had 
been Professor at the Staff College, and has a great reputa- 
tion as a student of scientific war. 

We had a thoroughly Russian type of meal, with shchi, 
kasha, etc. Ivanov allows no wine at his table till the 
war is over. It was interesting to see Princes Dolgorouki 
and Karakin, who sat opposite me, imbibing lemonade of a 

50 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

particularly sweet type. Prince Bariatinski, who served 
ten years in the 4th Regiment of the Guard, Rifle Brigade, 
and is now attached to Ivanov, sat on my left. I talked 
Russian with Ivanov, but he spoke French . to Laguiche, 
who sat on his other side. He proposed our healths 
amidst cheers and then kissed us all three in turn. After 
lunch we returned to the first-class wagon to which our 
kit had been transferred, and almost at once the General 
came over to call on us. He sat down on my bed and 
wrote out three copies of a greeting ' from the General 
in Command of the South- West Front to the Armies of the 
Allied Countries." He kissed us all once more before 
leaving, and I took a snapshot of him as he got out of our 
wagon. Ivanov has got an acute intellect and a good 
memory. He told us all that had happened so far on his 
" front," and detailed the section of the frontier occupied 
at present by each of the Austrian cavalry divisions. The 
Russians have so far been successful in all their encounters 
with the Austrians. As Ivanov says, these may be only 
Landwehr troops, but this initial success is having an 
exhilarating effect on the Russian morale. His headquarters 
were for four days at Berdichev, and he expects to spend 
ten days at Rovno. 

We spoke to a fine fellow, over six feet high, belonging 
to the 4th Heavy Artillery Division, a recruit from Kiev 
of the 1907 class. He was down on his luck and told us 
that he had left a wife and five children. We told him he 
would come back all right, but he shook his head and said : 
" They say it is a wide road that leads to the war and only 
a narrow path that leads home again." 

Rovno is a typical Russian frontier town, dirty and 
dusty, the streets swarming with Jews who stare and gape 
at strangers. 

Ivanov seems to have a large staff one officer said 
fifty-six officers but his personal staff only accounts for 
eight of them. 

We saw a supply convoy with grain and hay for the 

August, 1914 51 

XXIst Corps on country carts with tiny ponies. They 
stood for hours waiting the order to move forward. Cer- 
tainly the patience of the Russian is a valuable asset ! 
The troop trains seem to stop unnecessarily long in the 
stations, but there is no piling up of trains. 

There are seven to eight Austrian Cavalry Divisions on 
the frontier from Volochisk by Sokal to Rawa Ruska backed 
by the Xth and XXth Corps in the triangle Lemberg- 
Tarnopol-Brodi. These cover the concentration of the 
main enemy army in rear. 

Wednesday, August iqth, 1914 TRAIN AT DUBNO. 

Slept comfortably in train at Rovno. Left at 8 a.m. 
in carriage attached to General Ruzski's train. Arrived 
Dubno at 10 a.m. Introduced to General Babikov, till 
lately commander of infantry brigade, but now G.Q.M. of 
Army and acting as Chief of Staff during the absence 
through illness of General Dragomirov. Started off in a 
motor to get lunch at Dubno town, about five miles 

We passed the I27th Infantry Regiment on the way to 
Dubno. The weather was dreadful, rain in torrents. The 
Colonel rode at the head of the regiment, followed by a 
flag with the regimental number. The expression of most 
of the men was one of dull, unreasoning misery. Some of 
the younger men were singing and looked cheery enough, 
but these were a very small minority. The pace was such 
as to kill any troops they were practically marking time. 
The machine-gun detachment was well trained and manned 
by men who had evidently been picked. The regiment 
generally did not look like victory. 

On our way back from the town to the station we 
passed the 32nd Field Artillery Brigade a far better 
class of men than in the infantry, but the horses were, as 
usual, too light. The drivers carried slung rifles, but men 
on guns and limbers did not. 

We found the 7th Railway Battalion hard at work at 

52 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

railway (narrow gauge) extension from Kremenets to the 
frontier. The Colonel told me that he will later be em- 
ployed in broadening the Austrian railways. 

We got ready to dine with General Ruzski, as invited, 
at 8. Were told he would dine at 8.30 instead. At 8.30 
he did not turn up at all. 

Thursday, August 20th, 1914. TRAIN AT DUBNO. 

We started from Dubno at 9 a.m. and ran in a motor 
to within five miles of the frontier via Mlinov and Demi- 
dovka. A beautiful sunny day. From Mlinov on we 
passed an infantry regiment (the I29th). The transport 
seemed good, the horses remarkably so. Just now they 
are fresh and difficult to manage, but the men work 
well, and it will all shake down in a week or ten days. On 
our way back we ran into the corps transport, which had 
been overtaken by ambulance transport and which was 
marching on a double front, blocking the chaussee. How- 
ever, everyone remains good-humoured and quiet through- 
out. There is an extraordinary calmness and absence of 
shouting, and also of the abuse which we sometimes see in 
the management of our transport. The Russian has no 
very high ideal of efficiency to strive after, so he is content 
with a little, and takes it for granted that everyone is doing 
his best, as indeed he probably is. 

At Ostrov we were received with open arms by General 
Zegelov, the G.O.G. of the 33rd Division ; by Colonel 
Chernov, O.C. I32nd Regiment, and by Colonel Bredov, 
G.S.O. of the division. The General invited us into his 
house, the priest's, to rest. This was scrupulously clean 
and very comfortable. The priest and his family had 
moved to another room and brought us in tea. We then 
walked out to the bivouac, where we saw two batteries of 
artillery, the guns outside, the horses tethered by head- 
ropes to both sides of ropes tied taut between the am- 
munition wagons. We were introduced to the commander 
of the R.A. Division, who had won the St. George's Cross 

August, 1914 53 

at Port Arthur, and had distinguished himself more 
recently by fasting for thirty days, in which time he only 
took distilled water. This latter diversion was to " give 
his inside a rest." He said that he would have gone on 
fasting longer if the mobilisation had not intervened. 

We visited one of the infantry bivouacs ; every man 
was under cover, most of them in barns with a plentiful 
supply of straw. Their foot-rags, which were filthy, were 
spread out to dry. The march to-day was only eleven 
versts, seven and a third miles, and the men looked fresh 
and happy. They are a good lot in the I32nd, mostly 
coming from the Government of Kursk. 

The General invited us to dine at 5. We sat down at 
5.45 and had a good meal of chicken bouillon, " cutlets " 
and stewed apples, followed by tea. No drink, and few of 
the officers smoked. 

General Zegelov is quiet and knowledgeable. His 
Chief of Staff, Colonel Bredov, seems an excellent officer. 
Though the enemy was only a march distant, the staff 
seemed to give its whole time and attention to us during 
the six hours we were at Berestechko. They are cer- 
tainly confident and devoid of worry. One wonders whether 
this is the result of trust based on training, that all must 
be well, or simply slackness in allowing things to rip. 

The XXIst Corps is advancing on the right of the 3rd 
Army, with its three divisions from right to left as follows : 
6gth, 44th, 33rd. As many roads as possible are made 
use of. When a chaussee is available all the transport is 
marched along it. Each regiment of the division is 
covered by its own outposts at night. 

The Division had a half-section of the Frontier Guard 
as divisional cavalry pending the arrival of the 2nd 
Category Cossacks, two to three squadrons of which will 
be allotted to each infantry division. The advanced 
guard was commanded by the brigade commander. 1 

1 The Russian infantry division had in war-time only a single " brigade com- 
mander." This officer was really " second in command " of the division, 

54 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

We sheltered during a shower in a small room in one of 
the farmhouses, and found all the officers of a battalion 
sixteen of them including the priest, had their beds 
spread out side by side, almost touching. 

The IXth and Xth Corps, like the XXIst, have each 
got a reserve division. The Xlth Corps (Rovno) has not, 
as it is quartered almost on the frontier. The reserve 
divisions with these three corps are moving forward with 
the regular divisions. General Zegelov said that he 
thought the reserve divisions were only slightly inferior to 
the regular ones. 

The Opolchenie has been so far simply used to keep 
local order and for local defence. It is clothed in what- 
ever uniforms the local regular regiment happens to have 
available for issue. 

Assanovich told us at 11.30 p.m. that the 3rd Army 
would not advance to-morrow (2ist), as time had to be 
allowed to General Brusilov to move forward from Pros- 
kurov into line. To-morrow we return to Rovno en route 
for Baranovichi. 


Friday, August 2ist, 1914. BARANOVICHI. 

Laguiche is much worried by the delay of the French 

offensive in the West. There are always so many people 

devoted to the principle of the offensive in peace who 

hesitate to risk it in war. 

We arrived at Baranovichi at 8 p.m., dined at the 
station, and then drove to the Grand Duke's train with 
Colonel Kotsub6, who had just arrived from carrying 
despatches to Rennenkampf. It appears that the latter 
has had considerable losses. 

Saturday, August 22nd, 1914. BARANOVICHI. 

Laguiche received despatches yesterday to the effect 

that several Austrian corps are on the left of the Germans 

on the Alsatian frontier. He represented to the Grand 

Puke the importance of rapidity in the Russian offensive 

August, 1914 55 

in order to relieve pressure on the Allies in the Western 
theatre. The Grand Duke said that he had sent orders to 
Brusilov to advance as rapidly as possible, which he is doing. 
Rennenkampf has taken Lyck and, it is reported, Tilsit, 
but these places have no great importance. Only his 
advance on the line Stalluponen-Insterburg in combination 
with Samsonov's movement to the north can clear Eastern 
Prussia as a preparatory movement to the vital advance. 

Laguiche and I on return from a ride found General 
Ewarth, the Gommander of the Irkutsk Military District, 
at lunch at the Grand Duke's table. After lunch General 
Danilov told us that we might go to-morrow to visit 
Samsonov's Army. The question is, how much shall we 
see ? The place to be at present is right of Samsonov or 
left of Rennenkampf. 

Orders have been given to push the offensive ener- 
getically. Brusilov is two marches within Austrian 
territory, Ruzski crosses the frontier to-day, Plehve and 
Salza are only slightly in rear. The Ilnd Corps on Sam- 
sonov's right has reached Arys. 

Rennenkampf has won an important action at Gum- 
binnen. Russians think three German Corps were en- 
gaged. The enemy asked for leave to bury his dead and 
this was refused. I was reading the notice when the 
Grand Duke called me to come and talk to him. He 
asked me where I wanted to go, and said I might go to 
Samsonov now, and if I wished to change later to send 
him a telegram direct and he would arrange it. He was 
quite cheery again when I went to say good-bye to him 
after meeting Sir J. Hanbury- Williams at the station. 
We left camp and all the good fellows there at i a.m. 


I- / ' AUGUST, 1914 


AS has been shown in Chapter I., the original Russian plan of 
campaign was changed during mobilisation with the 
object of helping the Allies in the West. On the Russian right 
General Jilinski, Commander-in-Chief of the North- West Front, 
launched the ist and 2nd Armies into the East Prussian salient 
with the task of concentrating in the neighbourhood of Allenstein 
and so turning the defences of the difficult lake and forest country 
of Masuria. 

The ist Army crossed the eastern frontier of East Prussia on 
August I7th and drove back the Germans at Stalluponen. On 
the 20th it defeated them at Gumbinnen. Meanwhile the Com- 
mander of the 8th German Army, von Prittwitz, became aware of 
the advance of the 2nd Russian Army, which crossed the southern 
frontier of East Prussia on the 2 ist and occupied Willenberg, 
Ortelsburg and Neidenburg on the following day. Alarmed for 
the safety of his communications, after a first panicky decision to 
abandon all East Prussia and to retire to the lower Vistula, he 
ordered the withdrawal to the line of the River Passarge. He 
was superseded in command by General Hindenburg, who arrived 
with his Chief of Staff, General Ludendorff, on August 23rd. The 
energy of the new Command at once changed the situation. The 
German 8th Army, which had been defeated at Gumbinnen, was 
withdrawn by road and rail to envelop and annihilate the 
Russian 2nd Army in one of the most striking victories of 

The Disaster to the 2nd Army 57 

Sunday, August z^rd, 1914. TRAIN. 

Our train left Baranovichi at 8 a.m. We three 
Laguiche, Leonkevich and I are bear-led by Captain 
Anders, of the General Staff, a very fat fellow, but a very 
good fellow. 

It is gathered from various sources that the situation 
on the North- Western Front is now something as follows : 

The ist Army under General Rennenkampf on the 
right, consisting mainly of troops from the Vilna Military 
District, was ready before the 2nd Army and crossed the 
East Prussian frontier about the I7th. The ist and 2nd 
Guard Cavalry Divisions and the 2nd Cavalry Division 
are operating on its right as one corps under General 
Khan Nakhichevanski, the commander of the 2nd Division, 
and the ist and 3rd Cavalry Divisions are working on its 
left under General Gurko, the commander of the ist 

This Army has been continuously engaged in the 
neighbourhood of Stalluponen and Gumbinnen, but the 
Germans, whose strength is reported to have equalled 
three corps, are stated to-day to be in full retreat. 

The 2nd Army, under General Samsonov, was pushed 
forward before its concentration was completed. On its 
right the Ilnd Corps from Grodna occupied the town of 
Lyck. The Vlth Corps from Byelostok and Lomja crossed 
the frontier about Mishinets. The XHIth Corps, which 
had detrained at Ostrolenka, crossed the frontier at 
Khorjele and occupied Willenberg and Ortelsburg on the 
22nd. The XVth Corps from Ostrov and Warsaw crossed 
the frontier at Yanov, south-east of Neidenburg, on the 
2 ist, and occupied the latter town on the afternoon of the 
22nd. As the Cossack patrols were fired upon by civilians 
from houses, General Martos bombarded the town, reducing 
most of the houses in the centre square to ruins. The 
advance was apparently unexpected by the enemy, and 
the baggage of officers, including staff maps, was found in 
the hotel 

58 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

We arrived at Byelostok at 3 p.m. and called at once 
on General Jilinski. He asked us to remain to dinner, 
but we had decided to go on by a train at 7 p.m. to Sam- 
sonov's headquarters at Ostrolenka. 

Jilinski spoke of Rennenkampf's large losses and said 
that Samsonov was moving too slowly. He told us that 
he had taken the Ilnd Corps from Samsonov to fill the 
interval and to act as a sort of connection between the 
two armies by masking the fortress of Lotzen. It is true 
that Samsonov has occupied Johannisburg, Ortelsburg and 
Neidenburg, but Jilinski thinks he should be by now at 
Allenstein. He repeated that he was dissatisfied with 
Samsonov for moving too slowly. 1 

The Commander-in-Ghief went on to point out the 
difficulty of his task compared with that set Ivanov on the 
South- West Front. The Austrians surrender willingly, 
many of them having Slav sympathies. It is a different 
matter with the Prussians. A woman in East Prussia 
the other day, when asked by General Tolpigo, the com- 
mander of the 4th Cavalry Division, if there were any 
Germans in a village, drew a revolver and fired at him. 
Luckily she missed, and was at once cut down. On 
another occasion a Cossack asking a woman for milk was 
shot dead. 

Jilinski 's quarters are as peaceful as the Grand Duke's. 
He occupies a bungalow belonging to one of the officers 
now at the front. 

We were the centre of an admiring crowd, generally of 

1 Hindenburg and Ludendorff arrived at Marienburg at 2 p.m. on August 
23rd. That evening Hindenburg communicated to Supreme Headquarters his 
plan to " deploy the army on the XXth Corps by August 26th for an enveloping 

His plan was for the XXth Corps, reinforced by the 3rd Reserve Division 
(railed from Angerburg to Allenstein) to delay the enemy's centre, while the 
1st Corps (railed from Insterburg to Deutsch-Eylau) arrived on the enemy's 
left, and the XVIIth and 1st Reserve Corps approached his right by road. 
Article by Hermann Giehrl in Wissen und Wehr, p. 64, Mittler und Sohn. 
J3erlin, 1920. 

The Disaster to the 2nd Army 59 

several hundreds, if we stood still for even a few minutes 
at Byelostok. 

Monday, August z^th, 1914. MLAVA. 

We arrived at Ostrolenka early in the morning. It is 
a typical Polish, or rather, Jewish, town, for three-fourths of 
the population at least are Jews. All the fairly decent 
houses are on the centre square. The only things that 
strike a Westerner are the general filth and the swarms of 
squalid Jewish children. I had visited Ostrolenka and 
gathered a rough knowledge of the neighbouring country 
when I rode on a bicycle in the autumn of 1911 from 
Warsaw to Konigsberg. I then followed Benigsen's route 
of 1806-7, ascending the Narev from Pultusk through 
Rojan to Ostrolenka and Lomja, crossing the frontier at 
Lyck and turning west through Johannisburg, Ortelsburg, 
and Willenberg to Neidenburg, whence, after a contre- 
temps with the German officials, I rode north through 
Allenstein and Gutstadt to Konigsberg. 

At ii a.m. we called on General Samsonov. I had 
first met him last year at the Turkistan manoeuvres. I 
distinctly remember the night he arrived. It was late and 
the men were standing round camp fires. As the General 
reached each group he exchanged greetings with the men 
in the ordinary Russian manner, and then caught hold of 
the soldier standing nearest, or sometimes dived into the 
middle of a group, and commenced a running fire of 
chaffing questions, such as : " Where do you come from ? ' 
" Are you married ? " " Well, your wife won't know you 
when you get back. Look at the beard you have grown ! ' 
" Have you any children ? When I went to the war in 
1904 I left a daughter one and a half years old, and when I 
came back she ran away from me." 

At that time opinion in Russia was divided as to 
whether Samsonov or Rennenkampf was the more capable 
soldier. Many people thought that Rennenkampf was 
the more daring and that Samsonov had got out of touch 

60 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

with military ideas in the four years he had spent in 

I grew to like him in the four days we spent together 
in the mountains south-east of Samarkand. He was, as 
so many Russians are, of a simple, kindly nature, and his 
staff were all devoted to him. At the time he was much 
engrossed by problems for the development of the rich 
provinces committed to his charge. Neither Samsonov 
nor Rennenkampf commanded much more than a division 
of cavalry against the Japanese, and Samsonov's work 
since then has been but a poor preparation for the command 
of a large army in modern war. 

Samsonov is now fifty-five. He arrived at Ostrolenka 
on the i6th, having been summoned from the Caucasus, 
where he was on leave with his wife. We lunched with 
him in the infantry barracks near the town at i p.m., 
before leaving at 3.30 to drive by car via Rojan and 
Prasnish to Mlava. He received us most kindly, remark- 
ing how different it was to meet foreign attaches under 
present conditions. In the Russo-Japanese war the 
British attaches were always looked upon with a certain 
amount of distrust, and he confessed there was some- 
thing of thsamee feeling towards me in Turkistan last 

The following troops are advancing north from right 
to left : 4th Cavalry Division, Vlth, XHIth, XVth Corps 
and (2nd Division) XXIIIrd Corps, 6th and I5th Cavalry 
Divisions. The 1st Corps is in readiness as a general 
reserve near Soldau. Just before lunch a telegram arrived 
from Martos, the commander of the XVth Corps, to report 
that he had captured two guns and two machine-guns and 
was bivouacking to-night at Orlau and Frankenau, north of 
Neidenburg. The general line occupied to-night will 
stretch from north of Ortelsburg to north of Neidenburg. 
It is hoped to occupy Allenstein to-morrow. 

Samsonov's Chief of the Staff, General Postovski, 
characterises the^ advance of the 2nd Army as 

The Disaster to the 2nd Army 61 

adventure." Sufficient time has not been allowed for the 
mobilisation and the transport is not up. The advance 
should have commenced on the 2oth instead of the i6th. 
The officer in charge of the rear services is much worried 
regarding the difficulty of evacuating the wounded. General 
Postovski has spent nearly all his service in the Warsaw 
Military District and has acted as G.Q.M. of the District 
for over four years. He complains of the difficulty of 
assuming the offensive in a region which has been pur- 
posely left roadless in order to delay the expected 
German offensive. It will be the same in the Lyublin 

Rennenkampf is expected to occupy Insterberg to- 
night. The first reserve divisions to arrive on the front 
will be directed to Rennenkampf and the next lot to 
Samsonov. Samsonov's reserve divisions are now gar- 
risoning fortresses, but will soon move forward to join the 
active army. 

At Mlava we put up for the night in an hotel kept by a 
pretty Polish woman. Our hostess told us that her hus- 
band had gone to serve. The German troops had robbed 
her of Rs.i,ooo during their occupation of the town, and 
they paid for what they took by paper receipts which were 
now of no value. The population of the town was de- 
lighted when the Russian advance caused the Germans to 
retire. It is said that as we advance in Masuria the Ger- 
man population retires and the Poles remain. In fact, 
since the Grand Duke's proclamation, the attitude of the 
Poles is all that could be desired. 

I occupied a room with the Serb, who gave me a great 
imitation of the " Orchestra of Battle," the result of his 
experiences in the Balkan Campaign. 

The Russians are adding a third rail to the Warsaw- 
Mlava line in order to bring up the Warsaw- Vienna rolling- 
stock for use in East Prussia. 

Each army corps forms its own line of communications. 
The first post on the line of communications of the XHIth 

62 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

Corps was seen at Ostrolenka. On the road to Mlava were 
few Government carts, but large parks of requisitioned 
transport, and at Prasnish twenty to thirty automobiles. 
Martos in his telegram to-day reported that the XXth 
German Corps, in strength three divisions, was facing 
him. Samsonov had arranged to move from Ostrolenka 
to Ortelsburg to-day, but was kept back by Jilinski pending 
the opening of a direct wire to Ortelsburg. 

Tuesday, August 2$th, 1914. NEIDENBURG. 

We left Mlava at 9 a.m. and drove by a grand chaussee 
to Neidenburg. The corps transport of the ist Corps 
arrived at Mlava in the night, after a march of thirty-five 
versts, and started forward to Soldau at the same time as 
we did. 

As we passed the frontier, half-way to Neidenburg, I 
said to Anders that I wanted to photograph our group 
at the frontier barrier. He said : "At the former 

Neidenburg looks very different from its appearance 
nearly three years ago, when I was arrested by a gendarme 
on a charge of espionage. Most of the houses in the main 
square have been shot about and burned down. 

We drove on to see General Martos, the commander of 
the XVth Corps, a small man with a grey beard and a 
great reputation as a disciplinarian. He said that as his 
cavalry had been fired on by civilians on entering Neiden- 
burg, he had given orders to bombard the town. Accord- 
ing to one of the waitresses at the hotel, the Cossacks were 
fired upon by a military patrol of thirty men and not by 
civilians. This happened on the afternoon of Saturday, 
22nd. Martos, however, seems as kind-hearted as most 
Russians are, and described how uncomfortable he felt 
living in a house that the owners had left without taking 
time to pack their little belongings and photographs. He 
had himself carried back in his motor little children that he 
found near the battlefield. Soon after we left we heard an 

The Disaster to the 2nd Army 63 

outburst of firing at a German aeroplane which floated 
over us at a height of about 1,000 metres, quite unharmed. 

We then drove on to Lahna, occupied by the 3ist 
Regiment, who had taken it two days before. We found 
ourselves the centre of a throng of cheering men. We 
lunched at a wayside cottage, and, escorted by Cossacks 
to prevent mistakes as to our identity, we drove to 
Frankenau to visit General Torklus, the G.O.G. 6th Divi- 
sion. Torklus, who is a Lett, spoke German willingly. 
He sent his A.D.G. and an officer of the Intendance to 
show us over the right flank of the German position. 

It appears that after occupying Neidenburg on the 
22nd, the XVth Corps, moving north in three columns, on 
the 23rd came upon the enemy in an extended position 
about 5 p.m. This position faced south and stretched from 
Frankenau on the right or western flank by Lahna to Orlau. 
It was held by a line of riflemen supported by artillery and, 
it is said, without reserves. Prisoners state that they had 
been told to hold on till the last as they were to gain time 
for the concentration of troops in rear. The German 
strength is estimated at three divisions of the XXth Corps, 
but all the dead I saw on the hills south of Frankenau 
belonged to the I5oth Regiment. The Russians had two 
divisions. Probably the whole Russian force did not 
come into action ; on the other hand, I much doubt 
whether the Germans had more than a division. 

The centre of the German position at the village of 
Lahna was weak, as the trenches had only a field of fire 
some three hundred yards on the left front. The village 
was carried by the 3ist Regiment with the bayonet at 
8.30 p.m. on the 23rd. 

The left flank at Orlau and the right at Frankenau 
proved more difficult. Both were, however, carried on 
the morning of the 24th, the German left by the ist Brigade 
of the 8th Division and the trenches south of Frankenau 
by the 6th Division. 

The attack of the 2nd Brigade of the 6th Division which 

64 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

carried the German right was supported by two field 
batteries from a covered position at a range of about 5,500 
yards from the left rear of the attack, and by one battery 
from a position, also concealed, 3,400 yards directly south 
of the defenders' line. The latter battery did remarkable 
execution, and the greater number of the German corpses 
seen were killed by shrapnel. The Russian attack was also 
supported by howitzer fire. 

The attackers advanced to within about 700 yards 
before they were stopped by darkness. They lay all night 
in their position and managed to creep forward another 
hundred yards before dawn, when they were ordered to 
carry the trenches at all costs. The last 600 yards were 
carried in three rushes. Few of the defenders waited for 
the bayonet. Two Russian companies detailed to turn 
the enemy's right did valuable work, and the enemy in his 
retirement had not time to occupy a second trench just 
south of Frankenau, which was covered by a barbed wire 

The Russians used the spade freely in the attack. I 
saw rifle trenches scooped out within 130 yards of the 
defenders' trenches. The German machine-guns were 
deadly, mowing down rows of Russians immediately they 
raised themselves in the potato-fields to fire or to ad- 
vance. The Russian artillery quickly silenced the German 

General Martos complained that he received no help 
from the XHIth Corps on his right, that the front of 
fourteen versts allotted to his corps was too wide to fight 
on, and that there was delay in getting through messages 
to and receiving replies from Army Headquarters. 

The Russians estimate their loss in this action of the 
23rd-24th at 4,000 men and that of the Germans but 
this is mere guesswork at 6,000. One Russian regiment 
had nine company commanders killed out of sixteen, and 
one company which went into action 190 strong lost all 
its officers and 120 men killed. 

The Disaster to the 2nd Army 65 

The sight of the corpses was awful. We saw German 
and Russian wounded being carried from a field on which 
they must have lain at least thirty-six hours. 

The Russians seem to have treated the wounded 
humanely. We were told of a German officer who was 
being carried wounded from the field and who drew his 
revolver and shot one of the stretcher-bearers. All the 
German inhabitants have fled. The war on the German 
side will be a bitter one. 

General Martos received to-day the 2nd Division of the 
XXIIIrd Corps, and is to have the rest of the other division 
(the 3rd Guard) of that corps placed under his orders as 
it arrives. 

The country is difficult, and unfortunately there seems 
to be a lack of proper co-operation between the Russian 
corps commanders, who, if they worked properly together, 
should be able to advance rapidly by at once turning the 
flanks of the inferior enemy forces. The enemy are 
reported to be fortifying Hohenstein. The XVth Corps 
was halting to-day, though firing ceased at 9 a.m. yesterday. 
Nothing is known of the position of the XHIth and Vlth 
Corps to-night. Things will have to move more quickly 
for the Russians to do any good in the preliminary cam- 
paign in East Prussia, the object of which should be to 
annihilate the two or three German corps here together 
with their reserve divisions before they can be reinforced. 

Poor Neidenburg is in darkness and without water 
owing to the bombardment, but we are made comfortable 
enough at the hotel. 

There was an instance to-day of the want of business- 
like method in the Russian character. While we were 
visiting General Torklus, his A.D.C. was rummaging 
through the German post-bag, which had been captured 
in Frahkenau thirty-six hours before, when the Germans 
were driven back. This youth was simply satisfying his 
curiosity by prying into private letters to parents and 
sweethearts that, considering the circumstances under 


66 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

which they were written, should have been sacred from all 
examination except in the interests of the public service. 
We suggested that this correspondence might contain 
information of value, and the General said to his 
A.D.G. : " Yes, I forgot to tell you to write a note to the 

Regiment to send over an officer to go through it. 

You had better do this at once." As we went out, a 
young officer came up and saluted, and said that the 
German scholar of the regiment was on outpost duty, but 
that he knew a little German. The General said " a little 
German ' was not sufficient and that he would apply to 
another regiment. Heaven knows how much longer the 
reading of the correspondence was deferred, and yet it 
might have contained very vital information. It is 
extraordinary to think that a division should go forward 
without its Intelligence Officer earmarked. There seems 
to have been a great deal of sleeping after the position 
was carried yet the staff officer should never sleep ! 

Dear old Torklus seemed more interested in the 
psychology of his men and in the effect on them of their 
baptism of fire than in any preparations for a continuation 
of the advance. He told us how delighted he was with their 
spirit, for he had spent much time watching them from 
the window of the little cottage where his headquarters 
were, and he could detect no trace of nerve-strain. 

The position of the 2nd Army to-night is approxi- 
mately : 

4th Cavalry Division and Vlth Corps : North-west and 
north of Ortelsburg. 

XHIth Corps : Gimmendorf-Kurken. 

XVth Corps : Orlau-Frankenau. 

2nd Division and Keksgolmski Regiment (of the 3rd 
Guard Infantry Division) : Lippau. 

6th and I5th Cavalry Divisions and ist Corps : North- 
west and west of Usdau. 

Three regiments of 3rd Guard, Infantry Division : 
Detraining at Ilovo. 

The Disaster to the 2nd Army 67 

It is reported that the enemy is preparing to offer 
battle on the line Miihlen-Nadrau-Lansk. J 

Wednesday, August 26th, 1914. NEIDENBURG. 

The G.O.G. XVth Corps has ordered the advance of 
his three divisions direct to the north in five columns of 
strength from right to left of twelve battalions, eight 
battalions, twelve battalions, eight battalions and eight 
battalions. The Vlth and XHIth Corps also continue 
their advance to the north. 2 

Anders, the G.S. Officer, who accompanies us, refused 
to move out alone, as we had been nearly fired upon 
twice yesterday owing to Laguiche's red kepi. We went 
out with an automobile column. 

We drove out to Grosz Nattaisch (north-east of Neiden- 
burg), where we were met by the divisional transport of 
the ist Division (XHIth Army Corps). The automobile 
company took back twenty wounded nine Germans and 
eleven Russians casualties in an advance guard skirmish 
of the XHIth Corps on the 24th. One of the men had had 
an extraordinary escape, a bullet entering on the right of 
his nose and traversing the head, going out behind the 
left ear. The man was sitting up in the cart, but confessed 
he did not feel quite well ! 

There was bad staff work in starting. The Automobile 
Colonel a delightful fellow to talk to was quite unable 
to read a map, so we went three miles on the wrong road, 
and the heavy cars had to turn to the right about on a 
sandy track. It did not occur to him that he should have 
reconnoitred the road in his light car while the transport 
cars were taking in petrol at Neidenburg. Yet the 
Russians seem to muddle through in a happy-go-lucky way. 

1 On the evening of the 25th the German Ist Reserve Corps reached Seeburg, 
and the XVIIth Corps, after a 5O-kilometre march, reached Bischofstein. 
Wissen und Wehr. 

3 The Russian orders for the advance on the 26th were picked up by the 
German wireless on the 25th. Wissen und Wehr, p. 186. 

68 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

We were stopped in our attempt to get to the head- 
quarters of the XHIth Corps at Kurken by the sand on 
the road, so drove back to Neidenburg. We reached 
Neidenburg at 5 p.m., and met General Samsonov, who had 
just arrived by car from Ostrolenka. He told me that 
he thought of sending me to the 1st Corps on his left 
as " things promised to be lively there/ 1 

He asked us all to dinner, and as we started sent back 
Postovski to get his sword, remarking that he was now in 
an enemy's country and must go armed. 

We dined with the Town Commandant, a colonel of the 
30th Regiment, in the Governor's office, where I had been 
searched nearly three years ago. The Chief of Staff said 
that the whole of the 2nd Army was making a wheel to the 
left pivoted on the XVth Corps. He spoke of general com- 
plaints of the enemy's use of hand-grenades. It is curious 
that we heard nothing of them in Frankenau yesterday. 

Samsonov worried because he had not yet received a 
letter from his wife. 

There was a dramatic incident in the middle of the 
meal. An officer brought in a telegram for the G. of S. 
and said that the G.O.C. 1st Corps wished to speak on the 
telephone with the Army Commander or the. Chief of 
Staff. He said he was hotly engaged. General Postovski 
put on his pince-nez, read the telegram, and he and General 
Samsonov buckled on their swords, said good-bye to the 
Commandant, and left at once. 

It appears that this attack on the 1st Corps was not 
unexpected. This corps is at Usdau, and was known to be 
faced by a German corps which was reinforced to-day. 
I tried to induce Anders to start off for the 1st Corps, but 
without effect. 

A few of the local German inhabitants are coming back. 
I went into a house at Nattaisch to ask for a German 
paper. The man told me that the Cossacks had robbed him 
of everything. When I asked him where his wife was, he 
began to cry. 

The Disaster to the 2nd Army 69 

One of the local women who is helping the Red Gross 
with the wounded asked me to-day what was the use of 
war. A difficult question ! I said that it was entirely 
the fault of the Kaiser. She said that none of the local 
Germans wanted war, that they cried when they went 
away and said they hoped there would soon be peace. 
She complained of the Cossacks, but acknowledged that 
the Russians were now behaving well. She confessed 
that some young firebrand had fired on the Russian troops, 
and I told her that it was owing to that solely that a large 
part of Neidenburg had been destroyed. She said Willen- 
berg had been similarly treated. (This was untrue.) 

Anders came back from the Army Staff at 9 p.m. and 
told us something of the situation : 

General Artamonov with the H.Q. of the 1st Corps at 
Usdau is in occupation of a line west-north-west of that 
village. He telephoned to Samsonov that he expected 
to be attacked by two to three divisions advancing from 
the north-west, and aerial reconnaissance had revealed 
another division advancing against him from Lautenburg. 
He asked for the 2nd Division. Samsonov told him that 
the brigade of the 3rd Guard Division at Soldau would be 
under his orders, and sent an officer in an automobile to 
turn back the 2nd Division from Martos' left to cover 
Artamonov's right flank. He told Artamonov to hold on 
till the last man. 

Martos reports that his Cossacks entered Hohenstein 
but were driven out, and he is preparing to attack it with 
infantry. Klyuev, with the XHIth Corps, has passed 
the defile of Lansk (south-east of Hohenstein), which was 
only slightly defended. 

Rennenkampf has lost touch with the enemy, but has 
advanced considerably to the west of Insterburg and his 
left has occupied Angerburg (south of Insterburg). 

General Postovski is nervous ; he is generally nervous, 
and goes by the name of " the mad Mullah." Samsonov 
is content and satisfied. I hope Artamonov is entrenched. 

70 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

Samsonov has ordered all beer in Neidenburg to be 
destroyed ! l 

Thursday, Aitgust 2jth, 1914. MLAVA. 

Things have developed rapidly. Anders, after visiting 
Army Headquarters, brought back news at 10 a.m. to-day 
that the 2nd Division is near Jankowitz, facing the 
German main body at Gilgenburg. Germans are also 
advancing from Lautenburg, but the chief fighting is near 

Samsonov has moved the left of the XVth Corps south- 
west to Miihlen from Hohenstein, but has instructed the 
Vlth and XHIth Corps to continue their move north on 
Allenstein. He sticks to his plan, and I only hope he has 
not under-estimated the strength of the German advance 
from the west and north-west. All depends on that. 
Poiret, the French airman, who has been doing yeoman 
work, told me to-night that he thought there must be 
three corps from the strength of their artillery. He was 
reconnoitring north-west from Neidenburg this morning, 
when his observer was wounded by shrapnel in the leg. 
He says the German guns are in pits. It looks as if they 
were holding the Russians' centre and right and perhaps 
pushing round their left to cut the line of communication 

At Headquarters it was thought that two to three 
divisions were opposed to the 1st Corps, which is now on 
a line west-north-west of Soldau, and that part of the 
XVIIth Corps and some Landwehr is opposed to the 2nd 
Division. The XXth Corps is supposed to be south of 
Allenstein. In general it is imagined that the German 

1 Hindenburg had ordered the 1st German Corps to storm Usdau by 10 a.m. 
on August 26th. A Russian cavalry division penetrating to the rear of the 
German Corps caused some confusion in its transport, and the attempt on Usdau 

The 4th Division of the Russian Vlth Corps was attacked in a " cleverly 
entrenched position " at Bossau by the XVIIth German Corps in front and by 
the 1st Reserve Corps in flank and rear, and was driven back at nightfall on the 
26th. Wissen und Wehr, pp. 188-190. 

The Disaster to the 2nd Army 71 

strength does not exceed two regular corps (XXth and 
XVIIth) and one reserve corps. 

The troops actually in action against the German 
offensive are : 

Under General Martos, G.O.C. XVth Corps : XVth 
Corps, regiment of the 3rd Guard Infantry Division and 
the 2nd Infantry Division. Under General Artamonov, 
G.O.G. 1st Corps : 1st Corps. 

The dangerous point at 10 a.m. was thought to be the 
line Miihlen-Jankowitz. 

Samsonov said I was to go to Mlava with Laguiche, 
Leonkevich and Anders, and then get my servant, horses 
and kit and return to him. 

We visited the hospital (improvised from a school 
building) at Neidenburg before starting and enquired 
after the wounded airman. We found very little sign of 
forethought and organisation. No beds had been collected. 
The wounded were lying anywhere, on the straw or on the 
floor, many of them with the sun streaming in on their heads. 

As we were leaving Neidenburg a man rushed up 
shouting that the German cavalry was on us. There are 
signs of nerves. 

We drove to the station on arrival at Mlava, to find 
that our train with Army Headquarters had not arrived 
and no one knew where it was. General Artamonov had 
stopped all traffic to allow of the ist Rifle Brigade getting 
through. Of this brigade three regiments had arrived, or 
rather had gone through to the frontier station at Ilovo. 
While we were at Mlava station part of the Keksgolmski 
Regiment of the Guard was going through. 

Anders decided to drive down the line to find the train, 
and I went too, as I could not go anywhere without the 
motor. At Tysekhanov we dined at 3 p.m., and learned 
that the train was twenty-eight kilometres further down 
the line. I said good-bye to Laguiche, Leonkevich and 
Anders, who climbed on to a train for Warsaw. I drove 
back to Mlava, where I arrived at 7 p.m, 

72 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

An officer told me that just before I arrived there had 
been a panic in the town, someone having said that the 
Germans were coming. The Chief of Police told me that 
the same thing had happened at Ilovo, some Cossacks 
being responsible in this case. 

I have decided to remain in Mlava for the night. Poiret, 
whom I met again, told me that German shell was bursting 
five kilometres from Neidenburg when he left the town at 
I p.m., so it seems very doubtful if I could get through. 
I put up at the Victoria, with the idea of starting early in 
the morning. At 8.30 p.m. the corps transport of the 1st 
Corps passed through the town in retreat. 

A long convoy of wounded has entered the town from 
the 2nd Division. Losses, according to all accounts, 
have been dreadful, and chiefly from artillery fire, the 
number of German guns exceeding the Russian. 

A plucky sister arrived from Soldau with a cartload 
of wounded. She said there had been a panic among the 
transport and the drivers had run away, leaving the 
wounded. She stuck to her cart and load, and the Chief 
of Police sent someone with her to guide her to the tem- 
porary hospital in the Commercial School. She said that 
the artillery fire of the Germans was awful. 1 

Friday, August zSth, 1914. OSTROLENKA. 

Spent an uncomfortable night at Mlava, disturbed by 
long convoys of wounded passing over the cobblestones 
below the hotel. 

Got up at 5 a.m. and drove down to the station. Was 
with Baron Stackleberg, enquiring about Samsonov's train, 

1 The 1st German Corps captured Usdau at noon on the 27th, the 1st Russian 
Corps retiring through Soldau. 

In the centre the XVth Russian Corps attacked and met with strong re- 
sistance. The XI Ilth Russian Corps reached Allenstein with little opposition. 

On the eastern flank the XVIIth and 1st Reserve Corps pursuing the Russian 
Vlth Corps reached Passenheim. 

Rennenkampf's continued inactivity assured freedom of action for the 
German right wing, but Hindenburg had as yet no cause for triumph on the 
evening of the 27th, 

The Disaster to the 2nd Army 73 

when rifle-firing started all round the station. We ran 
out, to see an enormous Zeppelin hovering at a height of 
about 900 to 1,000 metres in the sun. It looked so extra- 
ordinarily peaceful ! Suddenly it threw four bombs, 
one after the other, in quick succession. The loss was 
six killed and fourteen wounded, but it might have been 
far greater, for the station was crowded. I picked up a 
piece of one of the bombs. The Zeppelin hovered round 
and finally sailed away. Infantry firing, proving useless, 
soon stopped, and a battery came into action, doing good 
work at once. One was filled with impotent rage against 
the machine, and it was with genuine delight that I heard 
it had been brought down and its crew captured. 

The drive to Neidenburg was uneventful, though the 
line of bursting shells and burning villages had come 
much nearer than on the day before. I passed one or two 
small detachments moving forward with advanced guards 
and flanking patrols thrown out. 

I arrived at Neidenburg at 8.30 and found Samsonov 
had gone on. I followed with a colonel of the General 
Staff along the route running north-east to Jedwabno. 
Every few hundred yards we stopped to question stragglers, 
who always had the same story that they had lost their 
way through no fault of their own. Samsonov said two 
days ago that Jewish soldiers skulked in the woods and 
so avoided fighting, but many of the men we saw to-day 
were certainly not Jews. We found Samsonov sitting on 
the ground poring over maps and surrounded with his 
staff. I stood aside. Suddenly he stood up and ordered 
eight of the men of the sotnia of Cossacks that was with 
us to dismount and give up their animals. I prepared to 
go off too, but he beckoned to me and took me aside. He 
said that he considered it his duty to tell me that the 
position was very critical. His place and duty was with 
the army, but he advised me to return while there was time, 
as my duty was to send in " valuable ' reports to my 
Government. He said that the 1st Corps, the 2nd Division 

74 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

and the XVth Corps had been forced back on his left. 
He had just heard that the Vlth Corps had been driven 
back yesterday afternoon * in disorder on his right. He 
was sending back all his automobiles via Willenberg to 
Ostrolenka, as Neidenburg and the Neidenburg-Mlava 
route were no longer safe. 

He concluded that he did not know what was going 
to happen, but even if the worst happened, it would not 
affect the ultimate result of the war. 

It was my duty to keep in touch with my Government, 
and I knew enough of the Russian character to under- 
stand that the presence of a foreigner at a time so critical 
would increase the nerve-strain of the staff, so I said 
good-bye, and Samsonov, with his seven staff officers, 
mounted the Cossack horses and rode north-west, followed 
by the remainder of the squadron. Both he and his staff 
were as calm as possible ; they said : " The enemy has 
luck one day, we will have luck another." They told me 
he was going to the XVth Corps, which was suffering from 
hunger as well as from heavy loss in a four-days' battle, 
and that he was going to collect what he could to 
drive the Germans back. 

The eight or ten officers left then consulted, and found 
that it was impossible to carry out the General's orders and 
drive straight to Willenberg, as a bridge on that road had 
been destroyed. We therefore decided to go back through 

My car was sixth in the long row, and it was a curious 

1 According to German accounts, the disaster to the Vlth Corps took place 
on the evening of the 26th, and not of the 27th. Samsonov only learned of it 
at 9.30 a.m. on the 28th. 

Nearly three years afterwards I met an officer who had served on the staff 
of the Vlth Corps. He said that it had marched thirteen days without a halt, 
without proper transport and most of the time without bread. The 4th Division 
was attacked by a German corps and the i6th Division " wavered." The 
corps commander received an order to march on Allenstein but retreated through 
Ortelsburg when he should have fought. Though in the fighting only one regi- 
ment suffered severely, the corps was cut off from direct communication with the 
Staff of the Army and had no idea what enemy forces were on its flanks. The 
German heavy artillery " made a bad impression " on the Russian rank and file. 

House at Baranovichi in which the Operations Department of the 

General Staff, G.H.Q., worked in 1914-1915. 

[See page 46 

Rovno. 18th August, 1914. Left to right : General Marquis de Laguiche, 
French Military Representative, General Ivanov, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian 
Armies of the South-West Front. 

To face page 74J [See page 50 

25th August, 1914. Russians collecting German wounded on battlefield 

of Orlau-Frankenau. 

[See page 6"> 

18th September, 1911. Sandomir; 

[See page 103 

The Disaster to the 2nd Army 75 

sensation to drive slowly into Neidenburg wondering 
whether it was still occupied by our own people or had 
fallen into German hands. We found everything quiet 
there, though a heavy cannonade was in progress, and we 
could see the shells bursting two or three miles to the 
north-west. Wounded men, stragglers and transport 
drivers were wandering aimlessly about. 

A soldier was being flogged by Cossacks outside the 
Commandant's house. He was shrieking. He had been 
caught pillaging a house. A shot was fired just as we 
left the town. 

From Neidenburg to Willenberg the civilian population 
was evidently in a state of great excitement. Several 
peasants were seen mounted. Men bolted round corners 
as our cars appeared. No Russian patrols were seen. 
The chaussee was splendid as far as Khorjele on the 
Russian frontier, but there we had to get horses to drag 
the heavy cars through the first three versts south of the 
frontier. We dined at 6 p.m. at Khorjele with the Catholic 
priest. Driving via Prasnish, Makov, Rojan, we reached 
Ostrolenka station at midnight. I had been motoring 
eighteen hours. 

Every few miles along the road from the frontier there 
were groups of Polish girls singing their religious chants 
as they knelt round the roadside shrines. I had for- 
gotten it was Friday, and connected for the moment their 
prayers with the world-drama being played out a few miles 
further north. 

An officer overtook us at Khorjele who left Neidenburg 
at 3 p.m., and told us that shells were then falling on the 
town. He said that Samsonov's train had been ordered 
back to Ostrolenka. 

Saturday, August 2gth, 1914. WARSAW. 

Left Ostrolenka at 6.17 a.m. and changed half-way into 

a military train which was carrying two companies of the 

235th Regiment a second-line regiment formed at Orel 

76 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

that had been five days in garrison at Osovets. The two 
company commanders and fifteen men per company were 
first-line troops, the remainder of the officers and men 
were from the reserve. 

I have put up at the Bristol Hotel. I got our Consul, 
Grove, to lunch. We met General Bezobrazov and his 
A.D.G., Rodzianko. Bezobrazov said that his " young 
men of the Guard are simply thirsting to fight/' 

I drove to the Kovel and the Praga stations to try to 
find out the whereabouts of my servant and horses. No 
success so far. 

Common report is that the Germans were pushed back 
yesterday by a flank attack and that they suffered enor- 
mous loss. I hope that this is true ! 

Sunday, August ^oth, 1914. WARSAW. 

Things are going badly. Lechitski and the staff of 
the Qth Army are here, though the army is not yet 
formed. I went to see General Gulevich, the Chief of the 
Staff, this morning, and found him preparing to start for 
Ivangorod. He told me that the great battle raging on a 
wide front south of Lyublin was as yet undecided. Some 
of the Russian divisions had retired as much as several 
kilometres, while, on the other hand, some of the Austrians 
had also retired. The Guard Corps is leaving Warsaw 
to-day in an attempt to roll up the Austrian left. I pray 
it may be successful. If it is in time, the impetus of the 
attack of 30,000 men of the calibre of the Guard Corps, 
fresh, and, as Bezobrazov said yesterday, ' ' clamouring ' 
to fight, should be irresistible. Gulevich was interested to 
hear my account of Samsonov's position. It appears that 
the Germans had drawn all their forces from Thorn and 
Graudenz to carry out the flank attack on Samsonov's 
communications . 

Gulevich said he would be glad to see me when the time 
came for the 9th Army to advance. He thought the Guard 
would be back from the southern expedition in eight days. 

The Disaster to the 2nd Army 77 

The 28th and 2Qth Siberian Regiments from the 
Irkutsk Military District are here already. They took 
twenty-three days from the day they entrained in Siberia 
till their arrival at Warsaw. 

All preparations were made for the evacuation of 
Warsaw if necessary in the first week of the mobilisation. 
The 3rd Guard Infantry Division went north-east to guard 
the neck of Poland at Suvalki ; the Warsaw bridges were 
prepared for demolition, all traffic being stopped for three 
days on the new bridge while the preparations were in 
progress. Government officials and their wives packed 
up ready for departure at a moment's notice. When the 
ist and 2nd Guard Infantry Divisions arrived from St. 
Petersburg and moved across the river there was general 

Our Consul, Grove, and I were arrested by a policeman 
whom we asked where the Staff of the 3rd Guard Division 
was. I was in uniform, and he drove with us to the police 
offices. There we refused to alight, and told him to fetch 
an officer. He said that we must come in and see the 
officer, and tha,t he would not come out to us, but another 
policeman who had more sense fetched out a junior officer, 
who was at once profuse in apologies. 

Guchkov, the Octobrist member of the Duma, who is 
here with the Red Cross, said last night that the Russians 
were prepared to lose 300,000 men in forcing the passage 
of the Lower Vistula. 

Monday, August ^ist, 1914. WARSAW. 

A telephone message came at 8.30 a.m. to say that the 
train of the G.O.G. 2nd Army was at the St. P. station. 
I went down and retrieved my servant Maxim. I was told 
that the best thing I could do would be to return to Ostro- 
lenka and I would find out everything there. No one had 
any idea where Samsonov was. (He had been dead over 
thirty hours.) 

Maxim has been three days at Naselsk on the Warsaw- 

78 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

Mlava line. This is a badly-equipped line, and its 
maximum working at high pressure to take troops forward 
and bring wounded back is twenty pairs of trains in 
twenty-four hours. 

The Russian Press states that a German corps in 160 
trains left the Belgian theatre for the Russian frontier on 
the night of August 28th. Russians seem convinced that 
corps from the Western theatre took part in the attack on 

The Warsaw-Mlava line is still being adapted for Central 
European gauge. The ist Rifle Brigade is stated to 
have been in action yesterday in the neighbourhood of 

I was told that the train for Ostrolenka would start at 
7 p.m., so drove down at six to find I had to wait till 

An eccentric youth travelled with me, the son of a 
chocolate manufacturer of Warsaw, who is on the Staff of 
the 2nd Army simply because he can draw caricatures. 
He colours maps ! 

Tuesday, September ist, 1914. OSTROV. 

I arrived at Ostrolenka at 9.30 a.m., to find the staff 
train had gone to Ostrov. I asked the railway transport 
officer if he could direct me to Samsonov. He shook his 
head, and as I pressed for a reply, he drew his hand sig- 
nificantly across his throat. Samsonov has been routed 
and has shot himself. 

The Vlth Corps is at Mishinets. 

The Ist Corps is between Mlava and Soldau. No one 
knows where the ist Rifle Brigade is. Most of the 59th 
Division, which was pushed up from Warsaw in support, 
must be near Mlava now. Not a unit of the 2nd Army 
has been in Germany since Sunday evening. 

It appears that the German attack from the west and 
north-west penetrated between the left of the XVth 
Corps and the right of the Ist Corps on Friday afternoon, 

The Disaster to the 2nd Army 79 

the 28th. A captain of the 2ist Muromski Regiment of 
the XVth Corps whom I met at Ostrolenka told me that 
he was so far the only officer of his corps who was known 
to have escaped. He was at Nadrau on Friday in action, 
facing south-west, against German troops facing north- 
east. While the Germans passed through to Neidenburg, 
a detachment turned the flank of his division, and at 
2 a.m. on Saturday it retreated to Orlau. On Saturday 
morning the division tried to fight its way through to the 
south by Neidenburg, but found this impossible. It 
retreated east through the woods towards Willenberg. 
Fighting all the way, this officer said, he at length reached 
the frontier and crossed at Zarembi, east of Khorjele, at 
8 a.m. on Sunday, the 30th. General Postovski and the 
greater part of the seven officers of the Army Staff and 
seventeen men of his company crossed with him, all on 

The main German attack from Gilgenburg on Neiden- 
burg and Willenberg seems to have completely cut off the 
Xlllth as well as the XVth Corps. Only odd men of both 
corps are now coming into Ostrolenka. All the guns and 
transport have been lost. General Martos was wounded 
by a shell which fell in his motor. He was accompanied 
at the time by ' Alexandra Alexandrovna," the wife of 
the second in command of the Muromski Regiment, who 
had a good knowledge of German and was disguised as a 
man to act as interpreter. She jumped out of the car and 
hid in the woods, but eventually disappeared during the 
retreat. She has probably been killed. The Army Staff 
went sixty versts on foot, and General Postovski arrived at 
Ostrolenka last night. 

This is a disaster. Rennenkampf has been ordered to 
retire. It appears that Samsonov had been cut off from 
communication with Jilinski for three days. It will delay 
everything. Russian officers maintain that it will make 
no difference in the ultimate result. The danger is that it 
will make the men lose confidence. They speak of there 

8o With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

being something they cannot understand, of disagreements 
between Samsonov and the corps commanders, of the 
Command thinking there are so many soldiers that it 
does not matter how many of them are thrown to their 

There is evidently indecision at Headquarters. The 
5th Railway Battalion, which arrived at Ostrolenka a 
month ago, had started laying a line by Mishinets to 
Rosog. On August 2Qth they were sent to Lyublin. On 
arrival there they were sent back as there was " nothing 
for them to do." This they are now doing at Ostrolenka 
the colonel reading a novel. 

Rennenkampf will be in a very exposed position. It 
is hoped that the German losses were large. 

A train passed through Ostrolenka with eight German 
officers and 370 men who had been taken prisoners by the 
XVth Corps at various times. This fine fighting corps has 
been sacrificed through bad organisation and generalship. 
It was starving for the later days of the fight. It looks as 
if the Russians were too simple and good-natured to wage 
modern war. 

Left Ostrolenka at 7 p.m. and arrived at Ostrov at 
9.30; dined and slept in the Staff train Grand Duke's 
magic letter ! 

Wednesday, September 2nd, 1914. OSTROV. 

I walked the one and a half versts to the Army Staff to 
visit General Postovski and General Philomonov, the 
General-Quartermaster of the 2nd Army. 

On Thursday, the 27th, the day I had been sent south 
with Laguiche and Leonkevich, the Russian left had been 
forced back all along the line. The XVth Corps with the 
2nd Division and the Guards Regiment were retired to 
an extended position facing west from Waplitz by Witt- 
mansdorf to Frankenau. Artamonov moved the 1st Corps 
still further back, transferring his headquarters from 
Soldau to Ilovo. He was superseded in the command 

The Disaster to the 2nd Army 81 

Three regiments of rifles arrived at Ilovo from the 
south by the evening of the 27th. 

The Xlllth Corps continued its advance to the north 
and arrived without opposition south of Allenstein. 

On the morning of the 28th the seriousness of the 
position was realised. Samsonov left Neidenburg at 
8 a.m. and motored in the direction of Nadrau to see 
for himself what it might be possible to do to save the 

At 9.30 he received information of the disaster to the 
VI th Corps. 

After I left him at about n a.m. Samsonov and his 
seven staff officers on the Cossack horses, and escorted by 
the Cossack squadron, rode to a point south of Nadrau and 
in rear of the XVth Corps. This corps, whose strength 
had been seriously reduced by the actions of the 23rd, 
24th and 27th, not only held its own all day, but took 
1,300 prisoners in a vigorous counter-attack. 

The Xlllth Corps, which had been recalled south, 
" arrived late and attacked without energy." The Vlth 
Corps continued its retreat through Ortelsburg. 

There was already a considerable interval between the 
right of the 1st Corps and the left of the 2nd Division. 
The 2nd Division and the Guards Regiment with it was 
overwhelmed, and the enemy's cavalry, several batteries 
of artillery and machine-guns on motor-cars, poured 
through the gap to reoccupy Neidenburg and so sever the 
most important line of communication. 

After a council of war the remains of the XVth Corps 
abandoned its position at 2 a.m. on Saturday, the 2Qth, 
and moved south. An attempt was made to force a way 
south through Neidenburg, but this was abandoned when 
the heights north of the town were found to be occupied 
by the enemy's infantry, which had come up in the night. 
The enemy continually extended his right, occupying 
eventually Willenberg. 

The Xlllth Corps probably surrendered. Most of the 


82 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

remaining men of the XVth Corps, with their commander, 
were killed or captured in the woods north-east of Neiden- 

The Staff of the Army followed the remnants of the 
XVth Corps in the retreat of the 29th, having been cut off 
from all communication with the 1st Corps since the 
morning of the 28th, and with the Vlth and XHIth Corps 
since the evening of the same day. They soon became 
isolated, Samsonov having told the Cossack escort, who 
had suffered severely in charging a machine-gun party, 
to shift for themselves. All the night of the 29th-3Oth they 
stumbled through the woods that fringe the north of the 
railway from Neidenburg to Willenberg, moving hand in 
hand to avoid losing one another in the darkness. Sam- 
sonov said repeatedly that the disgrace of such a defeat 
was more than he could bear. " The Emperor trusted 
me. How can I face him after such a disaster ? " He went 
aside and his staff heard a shot. They searched for his 
body without success, but all are convinced that he shot 
himself. The Chief of Staff and the other officers managed 
to reach Russian territory, having covered forty miles 
on foot. 

It is complained that the 1st Corps made no attempt 
to break through to the north from Mlava on the 28th, 
or on the morning of the 29th, when a strong movement 
might have saved the XVth Corps and possibly the 
XHIth. .-../,', 

Russian General Staff officers point out that it was 
madness to advance without properly organising and 
fortifying the lines of communication. Neidenburg had 
only a garrison of half a company of the Line of Com- 
munication Battalion of the XVth Corps. 

The German Intelligence Service was, as Postovski 
says, far superior to the Russian. I asked him if he 
thought any troops had been moved from the Western 
theatre, and he confessed : r Unfortunately we have taken 
no note of the units opposed to us." 

The Disaster to the 2nd Army 83 

I arrived at Byelostok at 12 midnight and went to 
the Palace Hotel. 


At Byelostok I wrote my despatch for the War Office and 
resolved to take it myself to Petrograd, as I had no safe means 
of sending it. I telegraphed to G.H.Q. to ask permission to 
transfer to the Qth Army, as the 2nd Army obviously required 
a rest. 

I tried to see General Jilinski, but was told that he was ill. 
His Chief of Staff, General Oranovski, saw me for a few moments, 
and I told him that I was going to Petrograd. A few hours 
later an A.D.G. of the Commander-in-Chief 's came to tell me that 
I must ask the Grand Duke's permission before returning to the 
capital. I was the only foreign officer with any knowledge of 
the disaster, and General Jilinski evidently thought that Russia's 
honour demanded that I should be prevented from informing 
the Western Allies of the true position. I was kept three and a 
half days at Byelostok, but at length received permission from 
the Grand Duke to go to Petrograd and subsequently transfer 
to the Qth Army. I left Byelostok at 9 a.m. on September 6th. 

The XXIInd Corps was passing through Byelostok en route 
for Graevo. 

A column consisting of the 1st Corps, the 1st Rifle Brigade and 
the remains of the 3rd Guard Infantry Division under the com- 
mand of General Sirelius, the commander of the 3rd Guard In- 
fantry Division, reoccupied Neidenburg at 9 p.m. on August 3oth, 
the Germans having entrained for the east immediately after 
Samsonov's defeat. The Russian troops, however, were nervous, 
and General Sirelius, having " heard that the Germans were 
returning in force/' abandoned the town seven hours later at 
4 a.m. on the 3ist. He was removed from his command. 

A German account of the events in the 2nd Army preceding 
the disaster is worth quoting : 

Even in the period of the strategical advance things 
had gone wrong. Whole army corps advanced from 

84 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

Byelostok without bread or oats, and had to have recourse 
to their reserve rations. Even before the Narev the march 
discipline was bad, and from that river to the Prussian 
frontier the Russian columns had to wade through sand. 
Nerves were so shaky that the troops fired at every airman, 
occasionally even at their own automobiles. The Higher 
Gommand was ignorant of the enemy's movements. Corps 
commanders were only informed of the immediate objec- 
tives of the neighbouring corps ; they were told nothing, 
for instance, of the task of Rennenkampf's army. . . . 
Owing to shortcomings in the communications service, 
Army Orders reached commanders much too late, some- 
times only at 10 a.m., so that troops could only march at 
noon. . . . The army was practically without telephones 
owing to lack of wire. Communication between corps had 
to be maintained by wireless. As many staffs could not 
decipher, messages were sent in clear, and the German 
stations obtained in this manner copies of important 
Russian dispositions. The Russian Army Staff remained 
for long ignorant of the disaster to the Vlth Corps on 
August 26th, and three times asked the XHIth Corps by 
wireless for information. When the scouts of the XHIth 
Corps reported on the 27th that there were columns of 
troops in movement near Wartenburg, these were imagined 
to belong to the Vlth Russian Corps, which in reality had 
fled long before through Ortelsburg. The troops seen 
were those of Mackenzen's XVIIth Corps. It was an 
unlucky chance for the Russians that on this day one of 
the few airmen who had flown over Wartenburg was shot 
down there. 

On the 27th the Russian XHIth Corps reached Allen- 
stein, which many Russian soldiers characteristically 
believed to be Berlin. A grandiloquent proclamation 
was posted in the town : "To you Prussians, we, the 
representatives of Russia, turn as the forecomers of united 
Slavdom," etc., etc., but in reality spirits were low, and 
soon news was received of the defeat of the 1st Russian 

The Disaster to the 2nd Army 85 

Corps at Usdau. Success was no longer believed in, and 
the bulk of the Xlllth Corps remained outside and 
south of the town, which was only occupied by a weak 
advanced guard. The Russians were thankful that the 
town gave them bread and oats. The XVth Corps asked 
for help, and the Army Staff ordered the immediate march 
of the Xlllth Corps from Allenstein on Hohenstein, but a 
council of war decided, in view of the extreme fatigue of the 
troops, to postpone the march till the early morning of the 
28th. 1 

Rennenkampf and Samsonov had made their reputation as 
commanders of cavalry divisions in the war against Japan. Their 
experience, however, as cavalry leaders in the Far East was of no 
value as a preparation for the control of large armies in an essen- 
tially different theatre under totally dissimilar conditions. They 
had to contend with men who had made a lifelong study of war 
in this theatre and under the existing conditions. 

Samsonov's all-prevailing idea was to try to see the battle 
with his own eyes. He was probably worried, too, by instructions 
from Byelostok. Hence the mad decision, taken in the early 
hours of the 28th, to cut himself off, not only from his base, but 
also from half his command, to send all such paraphernalia as 
wireless apparatus back to Russia, and to get on a Cossack saddle 
and ride forward to take his fortune in his hand under condi- 
tions resembling those to which he had been accustomed in 

Many Russian officers who took part in these operations have 
since admitted that the Russian army of those days " did not 
know how to wage modern war." Instances quoted in the 
Diary show the inefficiency of the Intelligence Service. The 
airmen did their best, but were handicapped by want of petrol. 
The service of communications was hopeless. Telephones were 
constantly cut, and the men sent to repair them were murdered 
by the inhabitants. Finally the Army Staff sent out the detail 
of the distribution of the army to the corps staffs in clear ! 

1 Wissen und Wehr, p. 193. 

86 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

The whole machine was inferior to the German machine. 
There was no proper co-operation between corps commanders. 
The men were worried by orders and counter-orders. The 
commander of a regiment of the ist Rifle Brigade has since told 
how his men, who had spent the night digging a trench facing 
north, were towards daylight ordered to retire a short distance 
and to prepare at once another trench facing west. The morale 
of all ranks was much affected by the number of the enemy's 
heavy guns, by his H.E. shell, his machine-guns on motor-cars 
and in trees, and his hand-grenades. On the other hand, many 
of the Russians fought with determination till the end. On the 
evening of the 30th, Hindenburg reported : " The enemy is 
fighting with immense obstinacy." Martos, of the XVth Corps, 
and Klyuev, of the XHIth Corps, surrendered with their staffs 
on the 30th, but parties of Russians still fought on till the 3ist. 

The Russians were just great big-hearted children who had 
thought out nothing and had stumbled half-asleep into a wasp's 

Nearly three years later one of Samsonov's staff, the Chief of 
his Intelligence, dining with me in Petrograd, described how the 
Army Staff became finally isolated in the woods near Neiden- 
burg, Samsonov having told his Cossack escort to shift for them- 
selves. This staff of an army must have been a pathetic sight. 
They had a compass but no maps. At last the matches they 
struck to consult the compass gave out. Not long after Sam- 
sonov's disappearance, my informant, being a fat man in poor 
training, felt tired out. He sat down to rest and fell fast asleep. 
When he woke it was broad daylight and he was hungry. He 
stumbled on through the wood till he came to a cottage. He 
approached cautiously, and while hesitating whether to declare 
himself or not, he overheard some scraps of conversation through 
the open door. The inmates were Poles and evidently smugglers, 
of whom there are many along the frontier. They were discussing 
the war, and one of them was angry because a Russian patrol had 
robbed him of 300 marks and had then outraged his daughter. 
He said that though the Russians were many they could not win, 
for people who did such things could never win. My friend went 

The Disaster to the 2nd Army 87 

in and gave them all the money he had, saying : " For the rest, 
I can only apologise for my comrades." The Poles played the 
game. They gave him milk and bread, and a few hours later led 
him across the frontier to a Russian cavalry patrol. 

The same officer told me that it was General Postovski that 
suggested that I should be sent back when I arrived on the 28th. 
He argued : ' The position is very serious, and it is not right that a 
foreigner should see the state we are in." According to this 
evidence, it was also Postovski's idea to go north on the morning 
of the 28th to direct the fighting personally ; the junior officers 
of the staff had suggested the withdrawal of Army Headquarters 
from Neidenburg to Yanov, but their advice was overruled. 

This officer stated that the XIHth Corps found drink in 
Allenstein on the 27th, and this was partly the reason that it only 
turned out at 10 a.m. on the 28th instead of two hours earlier, as 
ordered, in order to carry out Samsonov's instructions to strike 
south-west. When it did come partly into action, one of its regi- 
ments ran away in front of the Commander of the Army, who 
promptly superseded its commanding officer, replacing him by a 
young lieutenant-colonel of Engineers. The latter led the regi- 
ment back, but it once more gave way, and he was seen after 
fruitless attempts to rally the men to take his revolver and shoot 

Samsonov held a council of war on the evening of the 28th, 
and decided after consultation with Martos to withdraw that 
night to fight his way through Neidenburg. The idea was that 
the 2nd Division should move slightly south from Frankenau and 
the XVth and XHIth Corps moving south in its rear should come 
into action on its left. The Russian Command altogether under- 
estimated the German quickness of movement and initiative. 

Samsonov was really dead. There were rumours current for 
a long time that he had escaped, but M. Guchkov, in his capacity 
as Plenipotentiary of the Russian Red Cross, visited the enemy's 
lines and satisfied himself that he was dead. Many Russian 
officers afterwards blamed Samsonov's staff for abandoning him. 
They said that Samsonov, who suffered from asthma, could not 

With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

walk and had to be helped along. They said that his staff at 
first helped him, but finally abandoned him. 

In November, 1914, I met in Warsaw B , an officer of 

Rennenkampf s staff, who was a fervent admirer of his chief, 
though he acknowledged that he showed a tendency to go too far 
forward and did not remain behind working by maps, as the 
commander of a large force necessarily should. 

Rennenkampf received orders early in August to cross the 
frontier of East Prussia on August lyth and to carry out an 
energetic offensive in the direction of Insterburg. The orders 
stated that the 2nd Army would cross the frontier on the line 
Khorjele-Mlava on August igth. Rennenkampf showed the 

telegram to B , and said : " Nothing will come of it. In the 

first place, the 2nd Army will not be ready to cross on the igth, 
and, in the second place, the Germans will throw their forces first 
against me and then against Samsonov." This was prophetic, 
for though Rennenkampf himself crossed the frontier on the lyth, 
Samsonov's army only crossed on the 2ist, and, as we know, 
without waiting to complete its mobilisation. 

The battle of Gumbinnen was fought on August 20th. It was 
very nearly lost by the Russian ist Army, for three regiments of 
the 28th Division on the right gave way, but Rennenkampf, 
though urged by all his staff to retire in order to save an over- 
whelming disaster, held on, and advancing with his centre and 
left, drove the Germans back. There was the usual half-panic in 

the Russian transport. B asked the General if he might go 

to bed, and was told he might, but that he should not undress. 
He lay down for an hour and was awakened by Rennenkampf, 
who stood beside his bed, smiling, and said : " You can take off 
your clothes now ; the Germans are retiring/' 

If Rennenkampf and his staff had had any proper under- 
standing of their task they would have recognised that the time 
when the Germans were retiring was precisely the time to exert 
every effort to keep in touch, and certainly not the time to undress 
and go to bed ! 

The staff of the ist Army estimated the German loss at Gum- 
binnen at 40,000, but they completely lost touch on the 2ist. 

The Disaster to the 2nd Army 89 

The Russian cavalry on the right flank had suffered severely on 
the 20th and marched 25 versts to the north to rest ! 

During these operations the Ilnd Corps wandered about 
between the two Russian wings, helping neither. In the autumn 
of 1916 1 met an officer who had served on the corps staff. Though 
General Jilinski certainly said on August 23rd that he had 
taken the Ilnd Corps " from Samsonov's army," this officer was 
under the impression that the corps was originally under the 
ist Army. He acknowledged, however, that the service of 
communications was defective and the corps received few 

The Ilnd Corps completed its mobilisation at Grodna and 
moved forward to occupy an extended defensive position on the 
Avgustov marshes, the Vlth Corps occupying a similar position 
on its left. 

The corps advanced to the north-west and the staff entered 
Lyck on August igth. Johannisburg and Arys were occupied, 
and Lotzen was summoned to surrender, but refused. The staff 
entered Angerburg on the 24th. 

On the 26th, when the staff was between Nordenburg and 
Angerburg, an officer arrived in a car with instructions for the 
corps to retrace its steps to Lyck preparatory to joining the Qth 
Army. It turned and moved south. On the 27th orders arrived 
for it to move in conjunction with the IVth Corps (ist Army) 
south-west, via Rastenburg, to assist Samsonov. It turned again 
On the 2Qth the staff arrived at Korschen, and that evening 
received orders to retire east owing to the disaster to the 2nd 

It retired leisurely. The Germans attacked on September 8th. 
After severe fighting the 76th Division gave way, and the corps 
was ordered to retire to Darkehmen. The order arrived late, and 
the movement was rendered extremely difficult owing to the 
boldness and rapidity of the enemy's advance, and since roads 
had not been assigned to corps to confusion with the transport 
of the IVth and XXth Corps. 

On the I2th the corps was ordered to retire to Mariampol, and 

go With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

the staff arrived there on the I4th. By the igth the corps was 
withdrawn to rest east of the Nyeman. 

On September 27th the offensive was resumed in conjunction 
with the newly-formed loth Army (General Pflug, later General 
Sievers), and the Germans, who had despatched considerable 
forces to take part in the offensive in south-west Poland, were 
defeated at Avgustov. 

Samsonov's army crossed the East Prussian frontier on 
August 2 ist. By the morning of the 30th it had been com- 
pletely defeated and he had shot himself. The ten days' offensive 
cost the Russians practically the whole of the Xlllth and XVth 
Corps, the 2nd Infantry Division, and one regiment of the 3rd 
Guard Infantry Division with their artillery and transport. 

The Germans claim to have killed, wounded and captured 
170,000 men, the whole Russian artillery and transport at a cost 
of 15,000 casualties. 

Then came the turn of Rennenkampf, whose slowness to 
advance after the battle of Gumbinnen had been largely to blame 
for Samsonov's disaster. He retired a short distance and took up 
an extended position from Wehlau through Allenburg, Gerdauen 
and Angerburg and waited. Hindenburg received reinforcements 
from the Western theatre, including the Xlth Corps, the Guard 
Reserve Corps and the 8th Cavalry Division, increasing his 
strength to about 175,000. He attacked the Russian ist Army 
on both flanks on September gth and rolled up its left. Ren- 
nenkampf evacuated East Prussia with a loss, according to 
German accounts, of 60,000 men killed, wounded and taken 
prisoner, and of 150 guns. 

Russians claim that the invasion of East Prussia in August, 
1914, was a raid altruistically undertaken with the sole object 
of relieving pressure on Russia's Allies in the West. When the 
news of the disaster to the 2nd Army arrived at G.H.Q., and the 
French representative, General Laguiche, expressed his sympathy, 
the Grand Duke replied : " Nous sommes heureux de faire de 
tels sacrifices pour nos alliees." 

On the other hand, of course, the Russian Command did not 

The Disaster to the 2nd Army 91 

deliberately send to the sacrifice some nine corps and eight 
cavalry divisions more than a quarter of the whole ^irmy. 

The two armies were launched with the primary idea of a 
raid, but the Russians, with their sanguine temperament, under- 
rated the difficulties and hoped for a permanent local success. 
They forgot the miserable capacity of the Warsaw-Mlava railway 
and the alternate marsh and sand of Northern Poland, which had 
been purposely left without railways and roads to delay an enemy's 
advance. They forgot the wonderful capacity of the East 
Prussian railway system. They sent the 2nd Army forward 
without field bakeries, imagining, if they thought of the soldiers' 
stomachs at all, that a large army could be fed in a region devoid 
of surplus supplies. They probably imagined that during the 
strain of the campaign in Western Europe the enemy's opposition 
would be less serious than it actually proved. They took no 
count of the inferiority of the Russian machine to the German in 
command and armament and in power of manoeuvre. 

It is evident from German accounts that the raid effected its 
object. The fugitives crowding into Berlin as they fled before 
the Russian threat made the German Government and the 
Higher Command nervous. The General Quartermaster, von 
Stein, in notifying General Ludendorff of his appointment as 
Chief of Staff to the German 8th Army, wrote on August 2ist : 
You may yet be able to save the situation in the East. ... Of 
course you will not be made responsible for what has already 
happened, but with your energy you can prevent the worst from 
happening." The 8th Army Command had proposed first to 
evacuate the whole country east of the Vistula, but by the 23rd 
the date of the arrival of Hindenburg and Ludendorff had 
decided to defend the line of the River Passarge. 

At the commencement of the battle, which the Germans 
have named Tannenburg, the German Supreme Command 
telegraphed, offering to transfer three corps from the Western 
theatre. The reinforcements actually sent the Xlth Corps, the 
Guard Reserve Corps and the 8th Cavalry Division were drawn 
from the German right in the Western theatre. They arrived 
too late to take part in the battle of Tannenburg, but it was 

92 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

solely owing to the Russian raid that they were absent from the 
battle of the Marne. 

The Germans are naturally proud of their work in this cam- 
paign. Hindenburg and Ludendorff took full advantage of the 
lack of communication between the two Russian armies. They 
withdrew the German forces from before the Russian ist Army, 
leaving its whole nine infantry and five cavalry divisions masked 
from the 27th onwards by only two brigades of cavalry. They 
forced back the Ist Corps from the left of the 2nd Army and 
frightened it into passivity while they enveloped and destroyed 
the greater part of the three and a half remaining corps. 

In about three weeks they cleared East Prussia of the enemy. 
With an army that averaged little over 150,000 in strength, they 
inflicted losses of upwards of a quarter of a million men. They 
dealt a severe blow to Russian morale, and deprived the Russian 
army of a vast quantity of very necessary material. 

They took enormous risks, for they had no right to count 
on the supineness and lack of initiative of Rennenkampf and his 
numerous cavalry. They, however, knew their own machine and 
properly assessed the value of that of the enemy. They knew they 
could count on the co-operation with one another of the corps 
and subordinate leaders, who had all been trained in one school 
of military doctrine, and that they could rely on the educated 
patriotism of the men who were defending their homes. 

Possibly the detachment from the Western theatre that the 
Russian raid wrung from the German Supreme Command saved 
the Allies in the West and so turned the whole course of the war. 
No price could have been too great to pay for this relief in the 
West, but the price actually paid the crippling of the Russian 
army was greater than it need have been, and for this crippling 
the Allies generally, and Russia most of all, were eventually to 

General Postovski remained Chief of Staff under General 
Scheidemann, who succeeded to command of the 2nd Army, till 
after the battle of Lodz. He then commanded a division on the 
South- West Front. Eventually he returned to Petrograd suffering 

The Disaster to the 2nd Army 93 

from nervous breakdown, and was employed in the General 
Staff. I last saw him in the bad days of December, 1917, when 
the Bolsheviks were arranging their betrayal. I said : " This 
is a sad ending." He could not reply, but simply pressed my 
hand and passed on. 

General Philomonov was for some time Chief of the Staff in 
the Fortress of Brest Litovsk. Later he commanded a division. 
I have not met him since, though I was very near him during the 
offensive at Lake Naroch in March, 1916. 

General Jilinski was replaced in command of the North- 
West Front by General Ruzski from the 3rd Army. At the end 
of 1915 he was appointed Russian representative with the French 
army. Till then I used sometimes to see him wandering idly in 
the Summer Garden at Petrograd. The Chief of the Staff of the 
North-West Front, General Oranovski, held his post for two 
more months and then, being succeeded by General Gulevich, 
took command of the 1st Cavalry Corps. He was foully mur- 
dered by the mutinous troops at Viborg in September, 1917. 

Three corps commanders Generals Blagovyeshchenski of 
the Vlth, Kondratovich of the XXIIIrd and Artamonov of the 1st 
were relieved of their commands. The subsequent court of 
enquiry acquitted Artamonov and also Sirelius, the commander 
of the 3rd Guard Infantry Division. It dismissed from the 
service Blagovyeshchenski and Kondratovich, and also Komarov, 
the commander of the 4th Infantry Division. Artamonov was 
frequently employed, but never again in the command of troops 
in the field. The career of General Sirelius continued to be 
varied, and he was at least twice later suspended from command. 
The feeling against General Klyuev of the XHIth Corps for sur- 
rendering without proper resistance is still bitter 

Steps were taken to reconstitute the XVth Corps at once. It 
reappeared in the field in the loth Army at Grodna in March, 

1915. It was commanded by General Torklus, late commander 
of the 6th Division. I spent a day with him when his corps was 
on the line of the ist Army south of Dvinsk in the autumn of 

1916, and was surprised to hear that some 4,000 men of the corps 
had escaped from the debacle in 1914. The General told me 

94 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

that on August 26th the day after I had visited him the 6th 
Division advanced to Miihlen and was engaged continually with 
superior enemy forces till n p.m. on the 28th, when the order 
was received to retire. He blamed Samsonov for having failed 
to issue this order earlier. I last saw General Torklus when he 
came to the Embassy in Petrograd in 1917 to try to arrange a 
transfer for his son to the British army. 

The XHIth Corps was considered to have fought less well 
than the XVth. Probably for this reason it was not recon- 
stituted till later, when its former commander, General Alexyeev, 
became Chief of Staff to the Emperor in 1915. I visited the 
corps on the Dvina west of Jacobstadt in 1916. 




ON the South- West Front by the beginning of September the 
Russian armies had wrested the initiative from the Austrian 

The Austrians had in the first instance some thirty-six infantry 
divisions to assist the German seventeen divisions to hold back 
Russia pending the decision in the Western theatre. They 
resolved to strike north at the Russian 4th (Ewarth vice Salza) 
and 5th (Plehve) Armies between the Bug and Vistula. For this 
purpose they detailed a Northern Group, consisting of, from right 
to left, the 4th Army (Auffenberg), ist Army (Dankl), and on the 
left bank of the Vistula a mixed detachment containing a German 
Landwehr Corps under General Woyrsch. The strength of this 
offensive wing was about 350 battalions, 150 squadrons and 150 
batteries. To guard its right flank from the attack of the Russian 
8th (Brusilov) and 3rd (Ruzski) Armies through Eastern Galicia, 
they formed a right defensive wing, about 200 battalions, 170 
squadrons and 130 batteries strong. This right wing was sub- 
divided into the 2nd Army, which assembled between Stanislau 
and Stryj under General Kovess, and the 3rd Army (Von Bruder- 
mann), which was intended to cover the approaches to Lemberg 
from the east. 

The Russian 4th and 5th Armies completed their deployment 
on the 1 8th and moved south from the general line Novo-Alex- 
andriya-Vladimir-Volinsk on August iQth. 

The Austrian orders for the advance of the Northern Group 


96 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

were issued on August 22nd, before the completion of the con- 
centration. The advance was at first successful. The battle of 
Krasnik ended on the 25th with the retreat of the Russian 4th 
Army. Auffenberg captured Zamostie on the 27th. By the 
evening of September ist, Dankl had penetrated upwards of 100 
kilometres into Russian territory, and was within a march of 
Lyublin, the third city in the kingdom of Poland. Auffenberg's 
Army had made less progress, and was held up for several days 
by Plehve's 5th Army on the general line Krilov-Dashov-Komarov- 
Grabovets. At length, on September ist, Komarov was occupied, 
Plehve having received orders to retire. 

Meanwhile the plan of campaign worked out by Alexyeev, 
Ivanov's Chief of Staff, commenced to take effect, and the threat 
to the Austrian communications in Galicia became a very real one. 
Brusilov, with the Russian 8th Army, had crossed the frontier 
on a wide front west of Proskurov on August igth. Two days 
later Ruzski, with the 3rd Army, crossed astride the Brody- 
Lemberg railway. The progress of both armies was rapid. From 
August lyth till September 3rd Brusilov covered 220 versts. On 
the latter date the 3rd Army took Lemberg and the 8th Army 

The Austrian Command wavered. The main body of Auffen- 
berg's 4th Army was recalled, and on September 5th it faced south, 
with its right north of Nemierow and its left east of Rawa Ruska. 
From this position its right moved still further south to unite 
with the left of the defeated Austrian right wing in an attempt to 
withstand the enemy's continued pressure west of Lemberg. 

Meanwhile the arrival of the Guard and the XVIIIth Corps 
on the line Lyublin-Kholm had enabled the Russians to take the 
offensive against Dankl. On September 5th he was forced to 
withdraw his right, and Woyrsch's German Landwehr Corps was 
transferred east to strengthen that flank. Dankl held on for 
some days, but on the gth pressure on both flanks forced him to 

The counter-attacks of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Armies availed 
the Austrians nothing against the determined and continued 
pressure of Plehve, Ruzski and Brusilov. At midday on 

September -October, 1914 97 

September nth the Austrian Command resolved to withdraw 
its armies to refit behind the San. 

The Russian campaign on the South-West Front had opened 
brilliantly, but the success was not decisive. The officer who was 
in charge of operations in the Staff of the Front at this time stated 
months later that the original Russian plan had been by a simul- 
taneous advance to the south up both banks of the Vistula and 
in a westerly direction south of Lemberg to cut off the Austrian 
army from both Krakau and the Carpathians. In his opinion 
the gth Russian Army should have been sent due south from 
Ivangorod, instead of its strength being employed in frontal 
attacks between Lyublin and Kholm. 

During the five days I spent in Petrograd from the 
evening of the 7th till the morning of September 13th the Russian 
General Staff professed to be perturbed by reports of transfers 
from the Western Theatre. On September 8th it was stated that 
four corps, said to have been brought from France, were de- 
training on the line Krakau-Chenstokhov ; on the loth that 
the Russian Military Attache* had telegraphed from Holland 
that he calculated only ten to twelve regular German corps 
remained in the Western Theatre. On the same day information 
was received that the Germans were detraining a corps at Sambor, 
south-west of Lemberg. These reports were all inaccurate. 

Tuesday, September i$th, 1914. WARSAW. 

I arrived at Warsaw 8.30 a.m. Drove to the Hotel 
Bristol, and spent the day arranging for further journey. 

At the office of the Commandant of the Lines of Com- 
munication there were, as usual, armed sentries every- 
where, annoying everyone and exercising no discrimination 
as to who should be allowed to go in and who not. The 
whole place was in an indescribable state of filth ; everyone 
appeared to be waiting and little progress seemed to be 
made with work. However, by making a row I attracted 
sufficient attention to induce a clerk who could read to go 
through my letter. I was sent to the stable with an 
ensign, a nice fellow, who spoke a little English, to see my 


98 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

horses. The mare has rheumatism. The veterinary 
surgeon says she will be able to march in a week, but I 
doubt it. 

There is a little of everything at the " Base tape." 
It comprises a remount depot I saw a collection of 
dreadful scarecrows ; also poor Samsonov's horses, in- 
cluding the black that I remember walked so fast in 
Turkistan last year. There were people selling hay. A 
non-commissioned officer had come from Lyublin direct to 
get horses for his battery, and refused I perfectly agreed 
with him to take any of those he saw. There were 
numbers of deserters and of convalescents waiting to be 
sent on to their units. All seemed content to wait. I 
heard there were one hundred German female prisoners 
who had been captured armed in East Prussia and many 
other German prisoners. One wagon-load of thirty-five 
that arrived on Saturday from Mlava was to go to Minsk 
to be shot. They had been brought with only two Russian 
guards in the wagon. They murdered one by ripping up 
his stomach with a penknife and beat and threw the other 
out of the train. Luckily the man thrown out was not 
killed, and was able to creep to a station and warn the 
authorities. Altogether, I would prefer other jobs to that 
of Commandant tapes at Warsaw. Apparently the 
unfortunate individual deals with the lines of communica- 
tion in every direction. 

I saw two pessimistic Englishmen, both of whom were 
more or less convinced that Warsaw is in immediate 
danger because it is being fortified and wire entanglements 
are being put up. I told them that St. Petersburg is also 
being fortified ! 

Wednesday, September i6th, 1914. LYUBLIN. 

The Russian army is crossing the lower San unopposed. 
Ruzski, having reached Moseiska, is within a march east 
of Przemysl, 

September -October, 1914 99 


I met an English tutor who had seen something of 
operations in the Lyublin Government. He is full of 
tales of misconduct of troops that one corps bolted for 
miles from Krasnik and was only stopped by Cossacks, 
who used their whips freely that officers immediately 
they arrive at the bivouac look about for women and leave 
horses and men to shift for themselves. The XVIIIth 
Corps has gone up the Vistula. 

I left Warsaw by train at 4 p.m. without my horses, and 
arrived at Lyublin at n p.m., to find that the staff of the 
9th Army had left at 4 p.m. for Ivangorod and Ostrovets. 
It would be much better to drive there, but the Station 
Commandant, after telephoning to the Commandant Town, 
advised me to go back to Ivangorod to-morrow to apply 
to the Commandant fitapes, who would send me by the 
' organised ' route probably up the Vistula. Mean- 
while it was necessary to sleep somewhere, so after waiting 
an hour for a cab, and none coming, we started to walk 
the two miles to the town. We picked up a cab halfway, 
and drove in succession to seven hotels, starting at a palace 
like the Ritz and ending with a Jewish hovel. None of 
them had a corner to spare, and most of the rooms had three 
to six occupants. We drove back to the station and the 
Commandant Station most kindly turned out of his railway 
compartment to let me sleep there. I felt a brute, and 
wished I had put up in the refreshment room. It is the 
getting up in the morning one dreads, with no chance of a 

Heavy rain. 

Thursday, September ijth, 1914. IVANGOROD. 

I waited at Lyublin till n a.m. for a train to carry me 
back to Ivangorod. The captain in command of the station 
at Lyublin, with his two assistants, a staff captain and an 
ensign, were kindness itself. They do their work 
efficiently. I noticed while in the office at the station 

TOO With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

how everyone who came in was attended to sympathetic- 
ally and rapidly without red tape, and yet the general 
accompaniments of the office showed no signs of order. 
Good temper and unbounded patience seemed to make 
everything work. 

I was given a coupe to myself to return to Ivangorod, 
and gave seats to two ladies who were dressed in black, 
and a lieutenant in the horse artillery battery of the Guard 
from Warsaw. The elder lady had lost her son in the 
Preobrajenskis in the recent battle at Krasnik. The 
younger one, who was very pretty and who spoke English 
well, had come down to Lyublin to nurse her husband 
through an attack of typhoid. They told me of the death 
of young Bibikov, who belonged to the Lancers of Warsaw 
and was killed in a charge by the Independent Guard 
Cavalry Brigade against infantry in a wood. Mannerheim, 
his General, kissed the dead boy and said he would like to be 
in his place. Mannerheim is blamed for squandering lives. 
Poor Bibikov won all the prizes at the Concours Hippique at 
Vienna three years ago. I remember I saw his father and 
mother dining with the boy at a restaurant the night he 
returned to Warsaw. The little lady told me to-day that 
the funeral service had been held in a huge stable, part of 
which was occupied with horses, and she found this fitting 
in the case of a boy like Bibikov, who was so devoted to the 

The horse gunner told me of a remarkable piece of 
work by the i6th Narva Hussars. The Guard Rifle 
Brigade, which had three regiments in occupation of a 
position, was badly in need of help. The i6th charged the 
enemy's trenches at 10 p.m. ! 

I had some conversation with the colonel in charge of 
the advanced depot which the Guard Co-operative Society 
maintains for the convenience of the officers and men of 
the Guard Corps. The society has seven wagons on a 

September -October, 1914 101 

siding at Lyublin, three or four at Ivangorod. We took 
four on with us by the train in which we left for Ostrovets. 
The wagons are given at half-freight by Government. 
One can buy almost anything : boots, Sam Browne belts, 
chocolate, etc. They also sell brandy to officers, but there 
is absolutely no drinking to excess ; as officers say : " The 
war is too serious for that." 

The Russians lost many men at Krasnik, where the 
Austrians had semi-perm anently fortified a position. The 
enemy fired through loopholes and the Russians were 
forced to attack without fire preparation. The Russian 
artillery fire is wonderfully accurate, and as the enemy 
never has time to get the range to Russian covered posi- 
tions, the Russian losses in gunners have been extra- 
ordinarily small. The cavalry on this front has not 
suffered much and the infantry has borne the brunt. 

Probably as many as 40,000 wounded, including Aus- 
trians, were brought into Lyublin. They were carried 
many miles over bad roads in country carts. Three bad 
cases were carried in a cart, and more often than not only 
two men were still alive when they arrived. I gather 
that the advanced hospital is the regimental hospital, 
then the field hospital. Then at the railhead, as a rule, 
is the collecting-point (Sborni-Punkt), whence cases are 
sent to local hospitals (Myestnie) in school-houses, etc., or 
sent to the interior in trains if judged fit to travel. 

The gth Army is south of Sandomir on the right bank 
of the Vistula, with its chief supply base in Ivangorod. 
Each corps has a separate line of communications and 
organisation. Yesterday 40,000 puds were sent by train 
to Ostrovets, 6,000 on a steamer up the Vistula, and 16,000 
by road up the right bank of the river. The Russians 
have four steamers, each with a capacity of 6,000 puds. 
The ordinary military train takes 45,000 puds, just enough 
for an army corps for a day, including forage, etc,, etc. 

With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

At Lyublin I saw the 56th Supply Transport Battalion 
(country carts), which had just arrived from Bobruisk, and 
was met by an order to detrain and carry bread seventy- 
four versts, as the men at the front were said to be starving. 

On leaving Warsaw I noticed that one of the arches 
of the northern footbridge had been prepared for demoli- 
tion, and on the right bank of the Vistula there were 
emplacements ready prepared for a field battery, and 
pointed towards Warsaw. Similarly at Ivangorod there 
were recently-constructed trenches. 

While we were dining at the hotel at Ivangorod, 
twenty young, recently-appointed subalterns came in. 
They had been two years at artillery schools and had got 
their commissions early on account of the war. They were 
going to the gth Army to be appointed to batteries. The 
poor boys were all as keen as mustard, and told me that 
their one fear was lest they might be employed till the end 
of the war against the Austrians and never have a dash at 
the Prussians. I said to the Colonel : " They think they 
will all be field-marshals." He said : " No, it's the St. 
George's Cross that they dream of, but war thirsts for the 
young. In the Pavlovski regiment, out of eleven recently 
joined, four have been killed and seven wounded." The 
boys were soon scribbling letters home. 

We left Ivangorod by train at 10 p.m. 

Friday, September iSfh, 1914. SANDOMIR. 

I arrived at Ostrovets at 9 a.m. in a downpour, and 
drove in a motor, starting at midday, via Ojarov and 
Zavikhost to Sandomir, where we arrived at five. My 
servant Maxim, the orderly Ivan, and my one remaining 
horse did not reach Sandomir till 10 p.m. The police- 
inspector found me a nice, clean room in this very dirty 
town, which is crowded with troops. 

September -October, 1914 103 

The Russians have a mass of cavalry on the Austrian 
front. A Cossack officer told me that they had thirty- 
four second- and third-category Don Cossack regiments, 
and fifteen Orenburg Cossack regiments alone, to say 
nothing of Kuban, Terek, Ural, etc. I saw a squadron of 
Ural Cossacks in Sandomir big, red-bearded, wild-looking 
men, nearly all with a waterproof coat over their military 
great-coat. I don't wonder that the Austrians are fright- 
ened by them. 

The men generally that I have seen here are not so 
worn-looking as those with poor Samsonov were. 

Sandomir was taken on Monday, the I4th, the Tula 
regiment losing heavily. The town had been occupied 
for two and a half weeks by the Austrians. My hostess, 
who talked a little French, told me that she had had 
Hungarians and Cossacks and every kind of person in the 

There was fighting going on near by to-day and the 
sky was lit up to the south-west by burning villages at 

Saturday, September igth, 1914. SANDOMIR. 

I had a good sleep in a comfortable bed, and Madame 
P. gave us tea before we started to motor to Army 
Headquarters at Zolbnev, twelve versts south-east of 

She told me that her husband had insisted on her 
leaving for her sister's house when Sandomir was occupied 
by the Austrians. On the day the Russians re-took the 
town the Germans seized seventeen of the oldest men and 
carried them off. Her husband, an apothecary of fifty- 
six, was one of them, the excuse being that a shot had been 
fired from a group of houses in which his stood. She is 
now in despair, for she can hear nothing of him, and, indeed, 
is unlikely to do for months to come. 

We found the staff of the Qth Army in a villa 

104 With tlie Russian Army, 1914-1917 

surrounded by pretty gardens. The house was oldish, per- 
haps dating from the seventeenth century. The furniture 
was a lot of it good Empire. General Gulevich, the Chief of 
Staff, took me into a little room apart to talk, and sat down 
on a chair which collapsed with him and deposited him on 
the floor with his feet in the air. It may have been a good 
armchair a hundred years ago, but was not a weight- 
carrier. I showed my credentials. Gulevich explained 
that General Lechitski dreaded having me, as he could 
not speak either English or French. He came in to see 
me and actually understood my Russian ! 

The general situation was explained to me. Ruzski 
and Brusilov are still pressing the Austrians west. Plehve 
and Ewarth are pushing them south, and will probably take 
Jaroslau. Lechitski is making ground to the south and 
south-west. It appears that the Austrians have retreated 
west from Baranow, which was occupied by the Russians 
yesterday, and are preparing to defend seriously the line 
of the River Wist oka. 

A raid by five cavalry divisions is to be attempted 
under General Novikov with the idea of cutting the Austrian 
communications with Krakau and forcing them to retire. 
I asked and obtained permission to go with this force. 

I spoke for some time with the Polish lady, and she 
tried to find out what I thought of the Russian army, 
remarking that it had evidently made wonderful progress 
since the Japanese war. She showed me the place where 
two howitzer shells from the Russian guns had burst, one 
of them making a hole five feet deep within ten yards of 
her house. She and her husband had spent two nights and 
a day in the cellar. Her two sons are fighting in the 
Austrian army and she has not had any news from them 
since the war commenced. What an unhappy people the 
Poles are ! I hope one result of the war will be to produce 
a united people under Russia's protection. The idea of 
the possibility of such shell-craters in our garden in Ulster 

September -October, 1914 105 

makes one willing to pay any income tax for an over- 
whelming army. 

We drove further south to Rozwadow to see large 
quantities of supplies that had been captured from the 
Austrians. I had an excellent meal of shchi l and black 
bread probably all the stuff I will have to eat for a week 
or so ! 

Little Durnovo, on his way from General Headquarters 
to join Lechitski's gth Army, brought me greetings from 
the Grand Duke and the news that ' a second British 
Army has landed at Ostend and is moving in conjunction 
with the Belgians against the German lines of com- 

Colonel S., of the Administrative Staff of the gth Army, 
with whom I have spent the last few days, is a glorious 
snorer. Each snore ends with a regular ring. I lay 
awake imagining how his nostrils must shake and tingle. 
You could hear him at Vladivostok ! He tries to work 
hard in the day, but gives me the impression of talking 
too much. However, he is a kind-hearted soul. He was 
astonished that I shaved every day, and still more so 
when I told him that many people in England shaved 
twice a day. 

Sunday, September 20th, 1914. KLIMONTOV. 

A pouring wet day and not a pleasant start for the 
raid. General Erdeli, who is in command of the I4th 
Division, and his A.D.G., Prince Gantacuzene, called for 
me at 9.30 a.m. We drove through a sea of mud to 
Klimontov, the Headquarters of the I4th Cavalry Division, 
for the night. The division arrived about 3 p.m., having 
marched from Tarnobzeg, south of the Vistula, at 8 a.m. 
The 8th Division passed through Sandomir moving north- 
west last night. 

1 Cabbage soup. 

io6 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

General Novikov's corps will be 140 squadrons strong, 
comprising the 5th, 8th, i4th and two Don Cossack divi- 
sions, a Turkistan Cossack brigade and four sotnias of 
Frontier Guard. 

There seems some doubt regarding our " task." It 
is said that the heavy rain has flooded the Vistula and the 
possible crossing-places are carefully guarded. The possi- 
bility of a turning movement west instead of east of 
Krakau is canvassed. 

We got almost a comfortable dinner, including tea, 
for forty kopeks (tenpence) ! The population of the town 
is almost entirely Jewish. I found a Jew who had been 
at Toronto and talked broad " American." " He liked 
the country and liked the people " ! 

I saw Novikov yesterday for the first time. He was 
walking up and down a long room in the Chateau at 
Zolbnev discussing plans with his Chief of Staff, Colonel 
Dreyer. A young officer pointed him out as the fore- 
most cavalry leader of the Russian army. Outwardly he 
appeared merely a tall, handsome man of the type of 
British cavalry officer. 

Erdeli I had met before at St. Petersburg. He is of a 
more brainy and subtle type. He commenced his service in 
the Hussars of the Guard, in which he served with the 
Emperor. He commanded the Dragoons of the Guard, 
and at the beginning of the war was General Quarter- 
master of the St. Petersburg Military District, in which 
capacity he was appointed to the gth Army. He is only 

The division has had a rough time since mobilisation. 
It has had many skirmishes with Germans and Austrians 
between Radom and Ivangorod. The doctor says it is 
" tired," but horses and men look fit and hard. 

Monday, September 2ist, 1914. STOPNITSA. 

Rode forty-three versts (thirty miles) with the division, 
from Klimontov via Bogoriya to Stopnitsa. 

September -October, 1914 107 

On the march we had two squadrons in front, one 
furnishing patrols and the other an advance party. The 
four remaining squadrons of the leading regiment, with a 
battery, followed us. 

The officers of the staff of the division are : Chief of 
Staff, Colonel Westphalen, who is aged forty-nine and 
looks more, as he has just recovered from a serious illness. 

Captain of General Staff, Sapojnikov, a very capable 
officer with plenty of initiative. 

Two officers attached to the General Staff. One of 
these was at the Academy when war broke out. 

An officer in charge of administration. 

A Commandant of the Staff, who is also in charge of 
the " flying post." 

An officer interpreter. 

Liaison officers from neighbouring divisions. 

An officer and five men from each of the four regiments 
of the division. These " battle patrols " are sent out im- 
mediately before an action when the enemy is only five 
versts off, with the special task of bringing exact informa- 
tion regarding his distribution and strength. 

An officer and two men from each regiment and the 
artillery of the division as orderlies. 

Important messages are sent by the officers and 
ordinary ones by the men. 

We arrived at 6 p.m. at a Polish landowner's house. 
The hostess, a nice old lady with a comforting admiration 
for England, was anxious to see me. She doubts the 
fulfilment of Russia's promises to Poland. She told me 
that the Russian Government had seized all the balances 
in the municipal funds and in the private banks, most of 
which had been sent by Polish emigrants from America. 
The officials are getting no salaries and the pensioners 
receive no pensions ! 

I occupied a room with Cantacuzene last night, and 
had a very disturbed time. The General Staff Captain 

io8 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

only brought orders from the Corps Staff at 2 a.m. ; then 
there was much consultation while the divisional orders 
were being written in the General's room next door. Then 
the telephone which connects the divisional staff with the 
four regiments went continuously the whole night in the 
room on the other side. Heaven only knows what they 
had to talk about ! 

To-night the 5th Division is on our left on the Vistula 
and the 8th on our right. Our patrols are going as far 
as the Vistula. The enemy has a bridgehead south-east 
by south at a distance of about twenty-five versts from 


Tuesday, September 22nd, 1914. STOPNITSA. 

The Divisional Commander and his two General Staff 
Officers returned at i a.m. from a conference with the 
Corps Commander. They left again at 10 a.m. with battle 
patrols and orderlies to carry out a short reconnaissance 
towards the Vistula. 

The Austrians beyond the river are thought to be only 
Landwehr. A cannonade was audible all morning from a 
south-easterly direction. 

The position of our forces now (morning of 22nd) is : 

I4th Cavalry Division. Billets in neighbourhood of 

Stopnitsa. Patrols to line Korchin-Brjesko (on 


5th Cavalry Division. Billets, Korchin. To move 

23rd, north-west to Myekhov. 
8th Cavalry Division. Billets, Solets, north-east of 

Turkistan Cossack Brigade. Billets, Busk. Moving 

23rd, north-west to Naglovitse. 
The I4th, 5th and 8th Divisions have been detailed 
for the southern raid. The 4th and 5th Don Cossacks will 
protect their right rear. 

Till the 4th and 5th Don Cossack Divisions have come 
up, the task of reconnoitring west will fall to the Turkistan 

September -October, 1914 109 

Brigade and the 5th Division. The former will have 
headquarters at Naglovitse (north-west of Andreev) and 
will reconnoitre towards the line Lansberg-Sosnitse ; the 
latter will continue the reconnaissance line from Sosnitse 
by Bendin to Krakau, a front of upwards of three hundred 
miles for thirty-six squadrons. 


The Austrians have burnt the wooden bridge tempor- 
arily erected north of Szczucin, and fired to-day on our 
patrols from the southern bank of the Vistula. 

On receipt of corps or army orders, Captain Shapoj- 
nikov calls up the orderly officers and dictates the divi- 
sional orders, which are then carried by the officers to units. 
The hour of start only is communicated to units or bri- 
gades by telephone. Orders are never written before an 
engagement against cavalry. 

Officers in charge of patrols receive detailed instructions 
on the area to be reconnoitred and the subjects on which a 
report is required. It is also laid down where and when 
they shall send in periodical reports. The three squadrons 
of the i4th Division sent out yesterday morning were to 
deploy on the front Korchin-Pinchov and wheel to the left 
to the Vistula on the line Korchin-Brjesko. 

Officers ascribe the unwillingness of the Austrian 
cavalry to meet the Russian cavalry to the absence in the 
former of the lance. Every trooper in the Russian cavalry 
would now carry a lance if he were allowed. The German 
lance is a few inches shorter, a discovery which much 
pleased the Russians. The Russian cavalry practically 
follows the same tactics in reconnaissance as the German 
cavalry is supposed to ; it rides to kill any hostile patrol 
it meets. German Uhlans carried pennons in West 
Poland at the beginning of the war, but these were soon 
discarded. The Austrian carbine is poor. The I4th 
Division say they have not yet had a man wounded by it. 

no With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

The divisional medical officer tells me he has two sons 
and a daughter. He and his children are Lutherans. 
One son is married to an Orthodox girl and the other to a 
Catholic ; the girl is married to a Mohammedan. 

Wednesday, September 2$rd, 1914. ZLOTA. 

We got up at 6.30 a.m. and left at 8 a.m., after saying 
good-bye to and thanking our hosts of the last two days. 
We rode in a cold wind over the most dreadful roads I have 
ever seen, even in Russia, to Vislitza, and then wheeled left 
(south) in two columns and came into action against some 
200 " sokols," or Polish partisans not a very exciting 
affair ! 

We got to a comfortable house at Zlota at 9.45. We 
had been practically fourteen hours out. Luckily Maxim 
had made me some sandwiches, for which I was heartily 
thankful. The Russians are far too kind-hearted. We 
lost our way several times on our return journey, and if I 
had had anything to do with it, I should certainly have 
seized one of the local inhabitants and have made him 
come with me to show me the way. 

Officers carry their maps generally in their hats. The 
maps are never mounted. The two-verst map, which is 
not on sale, seems good. The ten-verst is inaccurate and 

The supply of the two-verst map was not always 
sufficient, and some officers used the three- versts a poor 
map with hashured hill features. 

Officers in command of " battle patrols ' were found 
repeatedly to be without maps of the district in which their 
task lay. The excuse was, of course, that such maps had 
been left in the second-line transport. 

Each regiment of the I4th Division has received 203 
riding remounts since the war began. These were fur- 
nished by the reserve squadron. About ninety of them 

September -October, 1914 in 

were the annual batch of remounts due a few months later. 
Others had been prepared for the six new cavalry regi- 
ments which it was proposed to raise this year. Most of 
these animals have been little trained, and they are so 
soft that many of them have fallen out of the ranks already. 
Apart from this, sick horses are every day replaced during 
the march by changing them for fit ones requisitioned on 
receipts from the civilian owners. 

The divisional doctor showed me the return of killed 
and wounded for the last month August I3th to Sep- 
tember I3th in which the division had been continuously 
employed on essentially legitimate cavalry duties. Officers : 
killed o, wounded 7. Rank and file : killed 32, wounded 
130. This out of a total of 5,200. 

Two Jews were discussing the war. One said : " Our 
side will win," and the other agreed. Someone asked 
which side was " ours," and both said : " Why, the side 
that will win." 

In our skirmish with the Sokols this evening we burned 
the Charkov Manor House, a fine old chateau. Its owner, 
young Count Palovski, and his agent were brought in a 
country cart to where we stood. I was sorry for the boy, 
who looked a cultured gentleman and rather a contrast to 
some of those crowding round him, but it was clear that 
he had harboured the Sokols till our arrival, and local 
evidence marked him out as their chief organiser. His 
elder brother is an Austrian subject and an officer in an 
Austrian cavalry regiment. Another brother served as a 
short-time volunteer in the very regiment that he was 
captured by to-day. They have estates in Lithuania and 
a palace at Krakau. The youth bore himself well and 
without bombast, looking round every now and again at 
his burning home. He was driven off under escort to 
Busk. He had doubtless remained in his home in the 
hope that it might be spared. 

ii2 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

The application of the lava formation I saw to-day did 
not impress me. A squadron simply advanced in open 
order and when fired upon retired. It roughly located 
the enemy's trenches and had no casualties because it was 
opposed to irregulars. The tactics of the day seemed 
feeble. As we had previous information that we would 
only be opposed by 200 Sokols, we might have allowed one 
brigade to march straight to bivouac. If the other 
brigade had sent forward one regiment in lava formation, 
it would have quickly found the enemy's flanks and forced 
him to retire from his trenches and cut him up when 

The orders for the march which were issued on the 
previous evening indicated the rayon of the bivouac. 
Verbal orders issued at midday allotted the brigades to 
villages. The orders for the outposts were written rapidly 
by Captain Shapojnikov while the " battle ' was in 

I had a very comfortable night at Count Veselovski's, 
an excellent supper and actually a bath in the morning. 

Thursday, September 24th, 1914 ZLOTA. 

Captain Shapojnikov left at 3 p.m. with a squadron 
and an officer of the Pontoon Brigade to reconnoitre at 
Brjesko. It was reported that an Austrian battalion is 
there and is either destroying or building a bridge. In the 
latter case we may expect a hostile offensive here, but this, 
I think, is unlikely. I still hope we will cross, so as to 
weaken resistance to the gth Army and hasten its advance 
on Krakau. 

We heard to-day that Plehve has taken Jaroslau and 
so Przemysl is cut off from direct railway communication 
with Krakau. 

I am very sorry for the Poles. These poor people 
don't know whether to stay or to try to get away. If 
armed Sokols come they say they are powerless to resist 
them and the Russian troops hold them responsible. At 

September -October, 1914 113 

tea to-day the old lady of the house asked me who a very 
young officer at the table was, and shuddered when I told 
her he was a Cossack. She said that ten days ago at his 
estate in the neighbourhood her brother had fallen down 
dead from heart disease while giving a shawl to a Cossack 
who asked for a disguise. In 1863 her grandfather and 
father had taken part in the Partisan movement. Their 
house was surrounded and both men wounded. Her 
grandmother, an old lady of eighty, was shot dead by a 
Cossack. I hope the settlement will bring this much-tried 
nation relief. Our hostess told me that she only heard at 
5 p.m. yesterday that her house was to be " invaded." It 
is hard lines, but this cannot be helped. The poor woman 
is horrified at the mud the orderlies carry in on their boots, 
but, after all, there is no mat to clean them on ! 

She complained to-day bitterly of the theft of apples 
by the men from a Jew who had bought the contents of 
her orchards. She told the Commandant of the Staff, but 
I fancy nothing will come of it. The officers do not seem 
to understand that this spoils discipline. 

Friday, September 2$lh, 1914. WOODMAN'S HUT 


We started at 9 a.m., after saying good-bye. Rode 
south to Dobyeslavitse. Glorious day. " The Blood- 
thirsty Cornet ' (as we had christened a young officer, 
who was always thirsting for the blood of the Boche) 
rode on an Irish horse, a " hunter," that he had bought 
from our host for Rs.40o and was at once willing to sell 
for Rs.75o. He got no offers over Rs.300, as the horse 
was evidently a confirmed " puller." 

We lunched in the house of a Polish landowner who had 
some fine old engravings. At lunch the General received 
information from the Corps that the Germans are advancing 
in two large groups based on Chenstokhov and Bendin, 
and that further north they have occupied Novoradomsk. 
We are ordered to move north in the direction of Pinchov, 


H4 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

and have to abandon the idea of crossing the Vistula, 
which was to have been carried out to-night. Our task 
will be now to delay the German advance on Warsaw till 
an army in rear concentrates. We had marched twenty- 
five versts in the morning, and started at 3.30 p.m. 
to march thirty-five more in exactly the opposite 

The division moved in three parallel columns, a brigade 
on either flank and the transport in the centre. We rode 
in advance of the left brigade. At 8 p.m. shots were fired 
by men of a German patrol on a connecting file of our 
advanced guard. We were all halted in a hollow at the 
time. The General ordered a squadron forward, and it 
streamed out in lava formation. Soon the Bloodthirsty 
Cornet returned to tell us that a German trooper had been 
wounded and captured. He carried his sword and helmet 
in triumph. He said he could not speak very well, as he 
had been wounded by a lance in the mouth ! 

An officer's patrol came in to say that the 8th Division 
was in action against infantry near Myekhov. We will 
move north to-morrow with the Turkistan Brigade on the 
right and north of it, the Caucasian Cavalry Division under 
General Charpentier. 

We reached a farmhouse at n p.m., but there is little 
chance of seeing our transport to-night. 

Rotmeister Nikolaev, who was marching by the centre 
road with the pack transport, stumbled on to the top of 
the German patrol to-day. He did not hesitate, but 
galloped straight at it, pack-horses and all. He accounted 
for nine Germans. It was fine evidence of the cavalry 
spirit, for if he had hesitated for a moment the patrol 
would probably have turned the tables on him, or at any 
rate would have got away. All the wounded and killed 
in the skirmish were by the lance. The Captain in com- 
mand got a horrid wound in the mouth, knocking his 
teeth out. He lay all night on a sofa of the dining-room 
of the house we occupied and glared at us. The second 

September -October, 1914 115 

officer was killed, and we altogether killed or captured 
twenty-three men out of twenty-six in the patrol. 

The Commander's diary showed that he had seen us 
march south in the morning. He did not reckon on us 
returning so quickly. The roads here are sunken and 
conceal troop movements. 

The young lieutenant who acts as interpreter was 
quite efficient in extracting information from a captured 
German N.G.O. His method is to tell the man that if he 
tells lies we are in a position to disprove them, and that he 
will be at once shot ; otherwise he will be sent back as a 
prisoner of war to Central Russia and will have a good 
time. He then asks if the man has a wife and children, 
when his eyes are bound to fill with tears, and he is 
' brought to the proper frame of mind." It was an 
unforgettable scene, the room crowded with officers, a 
single flickering candle, and the prisoners. 

Only N.C.O.'s and a few of the men are questioned 
separately and their answers are compared. Officers 
are not questioned, the Russian theory being that the 
officer is a man of honour and must not be insulted 
by being pressed to give information against his own 

The wounded N.C.O. stated that the patrol had been 
despatched two days previously from one hour west of 
Myekhov. It belonged to the Guard Dragoon Regiment. 
The collecting-point for reports was a village fifteen versts 
south-west of our present billet, and this point was occupied 
by infantry. 

Saturday, September 26th, 1914. YASENN, Six VERSTS 


Maxim arrived at the workman's hut with the transport 
about 3 a.m. I slept about three hours. Left at 9 a.m. 
and rode through Pinchov. 

Pinchov is the peace station of the I4th Uhlans, one of 
the regiments of the Division. I rode into the town with 

n6 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

Staff Rotmeister Plotnikov, the Commander of the battle 
patrol furnished by that regiment, and he was delighted to 
be once more in familiar surroundings. He said it made a 
curious impression to ride in war through a wood where 
he had so often gathered mushrooms with his wife. He 
got me cigarettes through a friendly Jew and a meal in the 

We rode on, crossing the Nida at Motkovitse to Yasenn, 
south-east of Andreev, where we stopped in a small country 
house inhabited by a bevy of women. Their drawing-room 
is full of flowers ; it will look different to-morrow morning. 
They can only give us four rooms, and we are eighteen 

A German patrol was sighted by one of our flank patrols 
as we crossed the Nida, but got away, though we sent two 
squadrons after it a pity, for this may spoil the im- 
pression of yesterday. 

The Corps Staff estimates the German strength on the 
front Ghenstokhov-Bendin at an army corps only, com- 
posed of reserve units of the Guard and the IVth Corps. 
If we can destroy their cavalry and so " blind them," as 
Shapojnikov says, we should have some fun. 

Yesterday Loginov, with the Turkistan Cossack 
Brigade reconnoitring on too wide a front, was pushed 
back from Konetspol, and later, it is believed, from Vlosh- 
chova. The 8th Division is believed to be near Vodzislav 
and the 5th near Myekhov, but their commanders are 
without much energy. One of the Don Cossack divisions 
arrives by forced marches to-morrow at Kyeltsi to assist 
Loginov ; the other will probably go on to the extreme 
left. Our role is to delay. The Nida, with its marshy valley, 
seems the natural line. 

Maxim, my civilian servant, asked me to recommend 
him for a St. George's Cross on account of the skirmish 
yesterday. As he was on a cart with the centre column, 
and was unarmed, I asked him what he had done. He 
said : " I yelled ' Hurrah ! ' " 

September -October, 1914 117 

Fine morning, but cloudy afternoon. Frost last night. 

Sunday, September 2jth, 1914. YASENN, SOUTH-EAST OF 


The enemy's infantry is generally on a radius of thirty- 
five versts from Andreev from right to left west of Vlosh- 
chova-Shchekotsini-Jarnovets-Myekhov. A column of his 
cavalry which was trying to get through to Andreev was 
thrown back by two of our squadrons last night. 

The Turkistan Brigade has re-taken Vloshchova. The 
5th Don Cossack Division arrives at Kyeltsi to-day. The 
I4th Division is to go to Andreev ; the 8th Division to 
Vodzislav ; the 5th to Skalbmyer] ; the 4th Don 
Cossack Division may arrive at Busk to-day, but it is 
doubtful. Agent's information received at 10 a.m. 
states that two infantry regiments are advancing on 
Naglovitse ; the bulk of the Germans seem to be moving 
south-east towards Myekhov, i.e., probably against the 
flank of the gth Army. They have this year's recruits in 
the ranks. The 4th Army is retiring to Ivangorod. Mean- 
while we have only a brigade of the 79th Division at 
Ivangorod and another brigade of the same division is 
retiring north along the Vistula. The Staff of the Cavalry 
Corps moves to Motkovitse on the river Nida south-east of 
Andreev to-day. Three railway bridges north-east and 
west and south-west of Andreev were destroyed this 

While I was writing the above a cannonade started 
north-west of Andreev, accompanied by machine-gun fire. 
We said good-bye to our hostess and her six daughters, 
who looked quite terrified. They had no idea till they 
heard the firing that the Prussians were anywhere near. 
I hope their nice garden and place escapes in the fighting 
that will probably take place to-morrow. I am par- 
ticularly sorry for them, as the father the only male of 
the establishment is practically an imbecile. The old 
lady said she would like to leave, but she could not get 

u8 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

her money from the bank, so had to cling to her little place, 
where she could be always certain of a livelihood by selling 
the apples from her orchards. There is a long score to 
pay against Germany. 

We rode about a mile towards Andreev and remained 
there for the day. The German guns fired deliberately at 
the Catholic church in Andreev and set it on fire. Then 
first one and then the other of our batteries came into 
action and the Germans ceased fire. An officer of Hussars 
told me that the fighting had started with an attack by a 
company of cyclists and two squadrons of cavalry on his 
piquet (a troop strong), and he had been forced to retire. 
We got bread and cheese at a farmhouse at 2 p.m., then 
rode back to our hosts of the night before to dine at 6 p.m. 
Then we rode on to Motkovitse, the estate of M. Gurski, 
who has migrated to Warsaw while the war lasts. The 
General, Cantacuzene and I put up in the drawing-room 
I on a glorious sofa. The Corps Staff is here as well, 
but the house is a splendid one, with room for all of 
us. To-morrow should be an interesting day. It was 
interesting to-day, but fog prevented us from seeing 

Monday, September 28th, 1914. KHMYELNIK. 

A comfortable night on the sofa in M. Gurski 's house at 
Motkovitse. A good breakfast and start at 6 a.m. We 
rode north-west towards Andreev through the outpost line 
of the night before, which was five versts from the Staff 
Headquarters and covered an arc of twelve versts. We 
advanced to " bite " the enemy, as the C.R.A. expressed 
it. In general the arrangement was : 1st Brigade right 
of the chaussee and 2nd Brigade left, with the Frontier 
Guard in the centre. 

I had my first experience of the moral effect of gun- 
fire. The enemy gunners were evidently attracted by the 
target offered by the Staff with orderlies and horses on the 
see, and opened fire with shrapnel. We had a hot 

September-October, 1914 119 

time for five minutes. This was our surprise ; we had 
one ready for the enemy. He was withdrawing north-east 
by the chaussee to Kyeltsi, when one of our batteries opened 
fire from a covered position on our right. We could see 
through our glasses the disorder in his column. Presently 
his guns came into action against our battery, and it seemed 
as if nothing could live under his fire. However, it 
eventually withdrew with a loss of only three wounded ! 
Our other battery came into action on the right of the road 
without much effect. There was a short pause while the 
enemy no doubt detailed a column to move against us, for 
he obviously could not continue his processional march 
along the chaussee to Kyeltsi and Radom with an enemy 
force of unknown strength on his right flank. Suddenly 
we heard rifle-fire on the chaussee from the direction of 
Andreev. It developed with extraordinary rapidity all 
along our short front. A Frontier Guard orderly galloped 
up to ask for leave to retire as his squadron was in a 
dangerous position. Erdeli told him not to be excited but 
to go back and hold on. We went back to the main 
position of the day, where the eight guns were brought 
into position north-west of the edge of a thick wood, 
covered by a scattered line of dismounted cavalrymen 
about two hundred yards in advance. The calmness of 
the Russians is wonderful. I saw the gunners actually 
asleep behind their shields two minutes before fire was 
opened. When, ten minutes later, the enemy's guns had 
got the range, the place became " unhealthy." Few shells 
reached us two hundred yards further at the other side of 
the wood, but the din was appalling. When the battery 
retired a captain of the Frontier Guard galloped up to say 
that one of the gun teams had been destroyed. He took 
men back to help, and presently a gun came slowly down 
the road drawn by two horses, one of which was badly 
wounded. A group of men carried a dead comrade. The 
batteries had remained in action till the enemy's guns were 
within 1,500 yards. Casualties were again trifling. The 

120 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

eight guns lost one man killed and six wounded, and six 
horses killed and twelve wounded. 

This was the second and the main position of the day. 
We then trotted back four versts through Motkovitse and 
over the Nida, where two bridges were prepared with straw 
and explosives for destruction. A line of men had been 
told to hold on to the approach to Motkovitse till all that 
were in front had gone through. 

Opposite to the entrance to the house we slept in last 
night at Motkovitse a Jew was hanging from a tree by the 
roadside. His cap was on his head, and as we trotted 
rapidly past in the drifting rain I did not see the rope, and 
was astonished to see a Jew who did not salute. As I 
looked again I saw that his feet were some inches from the 
ground. He had been slung up by the Corps Staff for 

The enemy's cyclists arrived too late to prevent the 
destruction of the bridge. We had prepared long lines of 
dismounted men to dispute the passage of the river, but the 
enemy had probably had enough, and a few gun and rifle- 
shots ended the day. 

We stopped at Kai to write orders for the halt, and then 
rode the twelve versts to Khmyelnik at a walk. Our 
outpost line is on the edge of a wood about five versts 
west of Khmyelnik. * 

The net result of our action to-day is that the enemy, 
whose strength is estimated at one brigade of infantry, 
one regiment of cavalry and two six-gun batteries of 
artillery, was prevented from marching to Kyeltsi, as he 
evidently wished, and was drawn into a combat with us in 
which he covered only twelve versts from Andreev to 
Motkovitse instead of the normal twenty versts' march. 
He will have to repair the bridges at Motkovitse or else 
return to Andreev, as a preliminary to a move north-east or 
south-east to find another crossing for his guns. 

We have lost about sixty men killed, wounded and 
missing. The bulk of them are Frontier Guard, 

September-October, 1914 121 

sotnia of which was left behind in the first position after 
the German infantry advance. It is said that they were 
destroyed by machine-gun fire. At any rate, their horse- 
holders came back without them. The German losses 
must be as great, for our guns got into their advancing 
columns. On the other hand, our rifle-fire can have 
caused him little damage, for our lines had to commence 
retirement when his firing-line was over 1,000 yards off. 
The terrain was particularly difficult for cavalry, for the 
woods were too thick to ride through comfortably with 
the lance. 

Erdeli was coolness itself, receiving reports and direct- 
ing the action with the utmost calm. The German infantry 
advanced resolutely and the artillery shooting was good. 

General situation : The 8th Cavalry Division is said to 
be east of Pinchov and the 5th at Busk. No news from 
Kyeltsi. The Corps Staff is here at Khmyelnik. Our task 
is "to delay the enemy's advance till October ist, when 
the 4th Army will be ready," but on what line, it is not 

We got a good dinner at Khmyelnik and slept com- 
fortably. The weather throughout the day was awful ' 
strong wind and many showers. 

Tuesday, September 29^, 1914. PRIEST'S HOUSE, 


We started at nine and rode north-west to Petrokovitse, 
where we awaited result of reconnaisance. We had 
heard that the enemy had moved his outposts and five 
companies of infantry over the Nida late last night, and 
that he had repaired the bridges by morning. They 
must have been very slackly blown up ! 

Three reports received between 12.30 and i p.m. 
confirmed the fact that the enemy was continuing his 
advance on Khmyelnik, We rode east in two columns 
to Otsyesenki, completing a march of forty versts in all on 

122 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

awful roads. We arrived at Otsyesenki at 8.30 p.m., and 
it was a pleasant surprise to find our baggage arrived and 
things ready for us at the priest's house. We won't, 
however, get dinner till n p.m. 

No news from Kyeltsi, but it seems probable that the 
Turkistan Brigade and the 5th Don Gossack Division have 
retired from there. 

The 8th Division had left three squadrons, two guns 
and two machine-guns to hold the passage at Pinchov, but 
this was forced by the enemy's infantry at 11.30 last 
night. The 8th Division is at Gnoino, south-east of 
Khmyelnik, and the 5th is in the neighbourhood of 

It looks as if we would come out between Ostrovets 
and Opatov. 

Last night while we were at dinner a Cossack officer 
brought in three prisoners. His patrol of eleven men 
had killed two and taken three. He announced the fact 
by saying that he had had a slight unpleasantness. This 
was said quite naturally, without the slightest straining for 
effect. A piquet to-day took two prisoners and killed 
one other man in a German patrol. The Russians are 
extraordinarily good to their prisoners, giving away tea 
and bread that they are in want of themselves. 

Khmyelnik is now occupied by the outposts of the 
German column from Andreev 

Wednesday, September ^oth, 1914. PRIEST'S HOUSE, 


We rested this morning and only resumed our retreat 
at 3 p.m., the priest blessing us as we left. 

We rode through beautiful scenery to Lagov, due east 
(nine versts only). 

The 8th Division has moved north to Rakov and the 
5th Division is at and east of Stopnitsa. 

I understood that we are to continue to move generally 
in a north-easterly direction. The Corps Staff is at Stashoy. 

September- October, 1914 123 

A Cossack squadron commander returned to-night from 
a two-days' reconnaissance, which he had carried out 
between two of the advancing columns. He ran 
very great risk, but has returned through a miracle, 
with the loss of two men only. He looks like a benevolent 
professor instead of a wild Cossack, and he has a stomach 
and wears spectacles. On one occasion, in a village at 
midnight, he stumbled through the German outposts and 
came on a house in which a number of them were fast 
asleep. He did nothing, as he ' did not know his way 
back." The information he brought amounts to nothing, 
for he saw no shoulder-straps. This class of officer spoils 
good men. Erdeli spoke some " winged words." 

Thursday, October ist, 1914. FARMHOUSE, ZVOLYA-SARNYA. 

Slept comfortably at the priest's house at Lagov. His 
sanitary arrangements are respectable, which is wonderful 
in Poland. 

The Germans are in three groups : the northern at 
Kyeltsi, the centre at Khmyelnik, the right about Busk. 
The 4th Don Cossack Division is north-east of Kyeltsi, the 
Turkistan Brigade with the 5th Don Cossack Division is 
east of Kyeltsi, the I4th Cavalry Division is at Lagov^ 
the 8th is at Rakov, the 5th at Stashov ; the Corps Staff 
is moving to-day north-east to Ivaniska. 

The Germans have the Xlth and XXth active Corps 
and the Guard Reserve Corps. 

We started at 2 p.m. and rode fifteen versts north-east 
to Zvolya-Sarnya by a pretty mountain road. The 
General examined the ground, selecting a position to 
delay a column that is reported to be advancing from 
Kyeltsi in this direction. We put up at a small farm- 

The division is armed with eight Maxims of the new 
(lighter) type. They are used in pairs, e.g., 
go with the advanced guard or rearguard, 


124 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

The strength of the cavalry regiment is 44 officers and 
996 men ; of the squadron, 147 men. 

Generally three reconnoitring squadrons are out at a 
time. Each is given a strip of country, say eight to ten 
versts wide. The squadron moves, say thirty versts, 
and sends out three patrols, one of which is generally 
commanded by an officer and the other two by N.C.O.'s. 
The patrols may move another ten versts, so the whole 
squadron searches to a distance of forty versts if not held 
up. Special officers' patrols are sent out to search sections 
between the reconnoitring squadrons. " Close recon- 
naissance " is carried out at the direction of the brigade 
commanders to a distance of fifteen versts. 

Friday, October 2nd, 1914. PRIEST'S HOUSE, VASNEV. 

We started at 6.15 on a dreadful morning cold wind 
and torrents of rain to ride west to Novaya Slunya, where 
we had been ordered by the corps commander to delay the 
enemy as he debouched from the hills. The ist Brigade 
took up a position in readiness on the right of the Opatov- 
Novaya Slunya road facing west, and the 2nd Brigade a 
similar position on the left. Both batteries deployed in a 
field on the ground on the right of the road, some four 
hundred yards apart. 

Erdeli and his staff rode to a hut on the left flank some 
400 yards in advance of the batteries. A farmhouse on 
the extreme left was occupied by a dismounted squadron 
of Cossacks, who were told to hold on "as long as they 
could." I asked an officer what this meant in the case of 
dismounted cavalry as opposed to infantry, and he said 
that it meant that they should go before the horse-holders 
were in danger, and that was generally before the enemy's 
infantry reached 1,000 yards' range. 

The ground, as we occupied it in the early morning, 
was hopeless for our purposes. With artillery that 
cannot fire at a much shorter range than 3,000 yards no 
ground was visible to more than 1,000 yards, owing to the 

September -October, 1914 125 

fog. There is a feeling among officers that their attempts 
to delay infantry advances are futile. The dismounted 
cavalry hardly waits to exchange shots and the action 
resolves itself into an artillery duel, in which our eight guns 
are opposed to superior strength. The position we would 
have had to occupy to-day was bad, for all the ground over 
which the enemy was expected to advance commanded 
that by which we should eventually have had to 

It cleared at twelve and we waited till at length a 
report came through that the column whose coming we 
awaited had turned off south towards Opatov. At 4.15 
we received a message (with no time noted on it) that a 
column of all arms was entering Khibitse, due north of 
where we were, and with a road to Vasnev, where we had 
arranged to sleep. We moved off at once and took up a 
flanking position to oppose the advance of this column, 
sending out battle patrols to ascertain whether the enemy 
had stopped for the night at Khibitse, or was moving on. 
Two officers in command of reconnoitring parties reported 
that the enemy had entered Khibitse, but were cursed by 
the General because they had not waited to see whether he 
moved on, and if so by what roads. 

Finally it was decided that we should spend the night 
at Vasnev, six miles from the enemy's infantry, and the 
transport, which had been sent east, was called back. We 
put up at the house of the priest, who entertained us with 
the best he had, and we had a scratch meal of ham, bread, 
butter and wine. The kindness of the Russians is wonder- 
ful. They are always anxious that I should have all I can 
possibly require before they think of themselves. 

The cottage we spent the day in belonged to an old man 
of eighty-five, who had forgotten how many children he had 
had seven or eight. He was a good type of the sturdy, 
sober Polish peasant. 

To-morrow we should get behind our infantry. I hope 
they are ready to wake up the Germans. 

126 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

Saturday, October $rd, 1914. COUNTRY HOUSE AT YANOV 


The retreat is continued, the 8th Division is ordered 
back from Rudniki, where it spent last night, to Syenno, 
but probably will not reach it ; the 5th Division from 
Midlov to Ostrovets, but will probably spend the night 
south-east of that. The three Cossack Divisions, 4th and 
5th Don and the Ural (Kaufmann) have moved north and 
west to the left flank of the enemy's Kyeltsi group, there 
being a wide interval between the left of the Kyeltsi group 
and the right of the German group further north. 

We slept quietly, though our outposts must have been 
in touch with the German outposts at Khibitse. We 
started at 8.30 a.m. and occupied a strong position east of 

The Germans soon appeared and moved in thick 
columns down the opposite slope to occupy Vasnev. They 
fired a single shot, which fell short. Our left battery fired 
for a considerable time, but all the shots were short, and 
the Germans did not reply. It is as well that they did 
not, for the whole east side of the long village in which 
we were was crowded with horses and men in which the 
first shell would have created a panic. 

No men were actually extended in the firing-line. We 
moved off at twelve, when Vasnev had been already occupied 
by the enemy, and an hour after we had received a message 
(despatched 10.20) that Kunov was occupied by infantry, 
cavalry and cyclists and that the latter were moving 
towards Ostrovets, our line of retreat. We rode rapidly 
through Ostrovets, for the enemy's cyclists had been 
sighted very near the town. Clear of the town, we 
stopped while the general dictated orders for the bivouac 
at Yanov, twenty- three versts north-east of Ostrovets. 
The road lay through woods for the most part of the way. 
It was pleasant riding, but the depth of the sand made our 
C.R.A.'s heart bleed for his horses. 

At Yanov we put up at a pleasant country house that 

September-October, 1914 127 

was well known to the I4th Division in its wanderings last 

The two Don Cossack divisions have been taken from 
the corps, and the corps (5th, 8th, I4th Cavalry Divisions) 
is to move north-east to Ivangorod and then to Warsaw, 
where it will take part in the operations towards the west. 

It was rather a blow to hear that the 4th Army is only 
crossing at Nova Alexandriya and Yuzefov. The 9th 
Army's crossing has been delayed by the destruction of 
bridges, one at Sandomir by fire-ships sent down by the 
Austrians and the others at Zavikhost and Annopol by 
flood. Still, it is said that the 4th and 9th Armies will 
both be across by the 6th. It will be a very near thing if 
they are in time. In any case, if they do not cross they 
will certainly be able to stop the enemy on the Vistula. 
The Guard Rifle Brigade and the Independent Guard 
Cavalry Brigade are at Opatov. 

Everyone is very confident that the war will be over 
in two months. Erdeli said as we rode along to-day, that 
we would see the New Year in in Petrograd. 

We heard to-day that the Commander-m-Ghief sent his 
thanks for the action near Andreev, and the battery 
commander, who was wounded, has been awarded the 
gold sword. 

The Russian horse-rations are as follows : 

Peace io| Ibs. oats, io| Ibs. hay, 4 Ibs. straw 

War - 14! 15 4 

Barley is only given when no oats are available. 

I had some conversation with Shapojnikov about 
Intelligence. The District Staff is in peace mainly 
responsible for the collection of intelligence, but the 
General Staff of each cavalry division in peace also works 
at it. The I4th Cavalry Division with headquarters at 

128 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

Chenstokhov had an agent for German work and another 
for Austrian. One agent, who is still working, is a Polish 
reservist and drives about in a cart. He received Rs.ioo 
for his first task and now gets Rs.40 to Rs.5o for each 
trip. He was most valuable against the Austrians, but 
finds work more difficult against the Germans. Before 
the attack on Sandomir he brought exact information of 
the units and number of guns in the garrison. He changes 

his disguise continually. Yet S never trusts him 

entirely and only tells him approximately where the 
division may be on a certain date. 

Poor Colonel Westphalen, the Chief of Staff, naturally 
feels his position, as his junior, Shapojnikov, is consulted 
continually by the General and he never. 

We picked up to-day a band of 200 Don Cossacks who 
had been trying for nine days to join the 4th Don Cossack 
Division. They are chiefly young men who had been 
excused service previously on account of family reasons. 

There are at present four reconnoitring squadrons out. 
Two of them have been out for five days. Generally three 
reconnoitring squadrons have a single collecting pivot for 
information and this is connected by " Flying Post," laid 
by the division, with divisional headquarters (a distance of 
about twenty versts). The headquarters of each squadron 
connects by its own " Flying Post ' with the collecting 
pivot. Headquarters of squadrons are at about ten to 
twelve versts from the collecting pivot. The squadron in 
turn sends out two reconnoitring patrols. Each squadron 
remains out " till further orders," and these orders are sent 
by " Flying Post." There has been no possibility of 
communicating with two of the squadrons mentioned 
above for three days, and they are now " on their own ' 
well in the enemy's rear. 

The method of sending out the battle reconnoitring 
patrols is this. The divisional commander calls out : 

September-October, 1914 129 

" Next battle R.P. of 1st (or 2nd) Brigade for duty/* 
explains the task verbally and the officer gallops off 
calling out : ' Follow me the Uhlan (or Hussar or Dragoon 
or Cossack) Battle R.P." There are two battle R.P/s 
for each brigade (one for each regiment) and similarly 
two orderly parties (one officer and two men) for each 
brigade (one for each regiment). 

Sunday, October ^th, 1914. FARMHOUSE > SITSINA. 

Last night was the second night that I was too tired to 
wait for supper. It was not ready till u and I turned in 
at 10.30. 

At i a.m. we were turned out and had to march east 
in a torrent of rain to Soleika Volya sixteen versts on the 
top of the thirty-five we had done in the day. My throat 
was hurting me and I felt pretty rotten. 

We were disturbed owing to the ambitions of a young 
cornet. This youth, who has been acting for the past year 
as regimental paymaster, burned, as his friend told me, to 
gain some special war honour. He heard from local 
inhabitants that there was a picquet or reconnoitring party 
of the enemy two versts outside our outpost line and got 
leave to take a party to attack them. He started with 
twenty-four men sixteen troopers and eight Cossacks. 
He surprised the enemy's picquet of thirty-two men and 
killed or burned (for he set fire to the enclosure where they 
slept) twenty-eight and took one prisoner* 

As information came in at the same time that the 
enemy's infantry had come close to us, the General decided 
to retire. We tumbled out of bed, Cantacuzene remarking 
that we would remember this against the Germans in the 
peace negotiations. While we were waiting for our bag- 
gage to get ahead, the prisoner, a boy of seventeen, a 
native of East Prussia, was brought in. He was trembling 
and, as he said, tired to death. He had only joined five 
days before and it can be easily imagined the hell he must 

have lived through in this skirmish, 


130 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

The scene in the dining-room was striking this boy 
standing facing his enemies, a lot of good-natured and 
sleepy Russians, our host, a handsome, bearded Pole, his 
son and daughter listening with intense interest to all that 
was said the half-light of a flickering lamp, the heavy 
downpour and rough gusts of wind outside. 

At Soleika Volya we lay down for some hours, but it 
was hard to sleep. I had our host's bed, but there were 
sixteen officers in his drawing-room on sofas, chairs, mat- 
tresses, camp beds and on the floor. We had a scratch 
meal at 12 noon and started at 2 p.m. marching sixteen 
versts over the crossing of a tributary of the Vistula by 
Tseplev to Sitsina. The crossing had not been occupied 
and we arrived at 7.30 p.m. at a large farmhouse at Sitsina, 
which the I4th Divisional Staff proceeded to occupy for the 
sixth time since the war started. The I4th Division should 
and I believe does know the ground. 

There are apparently only two groups of Russian 
infantry west of the upper Vistula the 75th Division at 
Radom, which is in touch with the 4th and 5th Don Cos- 
sacks, the Ural Cossack Divisions and the Turkistan 
Cossack Brigade, and the Guard Rifle Brigade which was 
at Opatov. 

Yesterday at Skarishev, south-east of Radom, the 5th 
Don Cossack Division fought a successful action, and it is 
said that the 75th Division threw back the enemy ten 
versts. To-night again our outpost line will be in touch 
with his infantry outposts. Each day it is a different 
column, as we carry through our flank march to the north. 
The Germans burnt all the village this morning where their 
piquet was cut up last night, and as we rode to our quarters 
to-night there was an enormous fire burning on the bank 
of the Vistula. It therefore looks as if the northern line 
of retreat of the 5th and 8th Divisions is cut off. They 
can, however, always retreat by Sandomir. 

The 8th Cavalry Division, which spent last night near 
Opatov, was told by the Corps Staff to move to Syenno 

September-October, 1914 131 

to-day, and the 5th Division from Midlov (south of Opatov) 
was told to move to Marushev, south-east of Syenno. It 
would be interesting to know how far these orders were 
carried out. The Corps Staff itself was fired on in Os- 
trovets. It sent orders to us to-day to hold Yanov, where 
we spent the first part of last night, to the last. The 
situation has changed so rapidly owing to the rapid 
advance of the Germans that the corps has lost all power 
of co-ordinating movement, and the safety of each division 
will ultimately depend on the skill of its commander. 

Bread is as a rule supplied by Government bakeries, 
each army corps having its own. In the latter part of 
September a civilian bakery was organised at Opatov to 
supply the Qth Army. Black bread from this bakery was 
sent to the cavalry operating in south-west Poland, On 
two occasions when it did not turn up, the I4th Divisional 
Intendant purchased from local Jewish bakers and dis- 
tributed to the regiments of the division. For five 
consecutive days the men of the etape company at San- 
domir were without bread. On these occasions fifty 
kopeks are given to each man and he purchases bread if 
he can I 

When Government cattle are not available, each squad- 
ron or battalion purchases meat locally. Similarly with 
cabbages. When the regimental supply of tea, sugar and 
salt is exhausted it is replenished by the Intendance. 

The men of the I4th Division were well fed throughout, 
though they received the meals often at unnecessarily 
irregular times. 

Forage is wherever possible purchased by squadron 
commanders and paid for in cash. 

Monday, October tfh, 1914. FARMHOUSE, LAGOV 


It was a lucky chance which prompted Erdeli to send a 
squadron and two machine-guns to Ostrovets from Vasnev 

132 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 


early on the morning of the 3rd. I heard him give the 
order when Shapojnikov came in with the reports that 
had been received in the night, one of which told us that 
Kunov was occupied by the enemy's cyclists. The order 
was a remarkable one, for we had been informed by the 
Corps Staff the night before that the 2nd Rifle Brigade 
would be in Ostrovets. As things turned out, Ostrovets 
was unoccupied and the cavalry only arrived a few 
minutes before the German cyclists and so were able to 
ensure our passage six hours later. 

We remained where we were all day at Sitsina " to 
guard the left of the 75th Division at Radom." I thought 
it very possible that Zvolen might be occupied and our 
retreat confined uncomfortably to the dreadful roads 
north-east from Sitsina. I went out for a walk at six, and 
found everyone starting on my return. The 75th Division 
was falling back from Radom, the 5th Don Cossacks Divi- 
sion was falling back north of Zvolen. I said good-bye to 
my hostess and her little three-year-old daughter, and we 
started on our ride. It was fine with almost a full moon, 
and for a wonder no wind. Zvolen was not yet occupied. 
It was a relief to get on the good Radom-Novo Alexandriya 
chaussee. We stopped for the night at Lagov, about 
fifteen versts from the river, turning the poor landlord out 
of his bed and generally upsetting his house. 

We heard to-day that the Corps Staff had arrived at 
Novo- Alexandriya, 

Tuesday, October 6th, 1914. OSINI, NEAR Novo 


We left Lagov soon after daylight and moved west to 
five and a half versts east of Zvolen, where we took up a 
position " to delay the German advance." The 2nd Bri- 
gade was on the right of the chaitssee. Some of the 
Frontier Guard were thrown forward in the centre and the 
ist Brigade was on the left. The two batteries, one on the 

September -October, 1914 133 

right of the chaussge and the other on the left, had a 
single O.P. a wooden windmill on the left centre, near 
which we took up our position. It rained incessantly all 
day a steady downpour but there was less wind than 

Presently a patrol commander west of Zvolen reported 
that a company of cyclists with two squadrons of cavalry 
and some infantry were advancing and that he was 
retiring to the east of Zvolen. There was some excitement 
caused by a glimpse of two squadrons on the edge of a wood 
three and a half versts off. The artillery did not fire, as 
we could not be sure that they were not our own people. 
A report that a column of the enemy had turned north-east 
from Zvolen caused Erdeli to retire his right brigade three 
versts to another position. From about twelve on, we 
could hear rifle-shots in the village in front and on our 
left flank. It was clearly evident to everyone that the 
enemy was trying to work round our flanks ; with a 
crossing like the Vistula in rear this was a real danger. Once 
established on our flanks, the enemy might have pierced our 
front with his machine-guns on automobiles and have 
pushed forward heavy guns to bombard the bridge. The 
order which we got from the Corps Staff in the morning 
was to delay the enemy without allowing ourselves to 
become seriously engaged and to retire over the river into 
bivouac east of Novo Alexandriya. Erdeli was urged by 
his staff and by Colonel Sencha, as strongly as discipline 
would allow, to retire. He, however, wanted to fire his 
guns and remained on in the hope of a target. At length, 
at 1.45, he fired some shots, at the edge of a wood where 
there was thought to be infantry. We went off immediately 
afterwards. The brigade retired extraordinarily quickly 
and in perfect order. When we reached the bridge at 
Novo Alexandriya at 5 p.m. the whole of the ist Brigade 
was already there. The 2nd was close at hand. The 
distance they had covered was eighteen to twenty-one 
versts. The enemy made no attempt to follow us 

134 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

probably because he was waiting for troops to come up 
from the rear. 

The situation in the morning when we took up our 
position east of Zvolenwas explained to me by Shapojnikov. 

General Stegelman, with the 75th Division, accom- 
panied by the 4th Don and the Ural Cossack Divisions, 
had continued the retirement commenced on the morning 
of the 5th and had reached a line west and south-west of 
Kozenitse. The Turkistan Cossack Brigade was retiring 
east along the railway from Radom to Ivangorod. 

The 5th Don Cossack Division, which had spent the 
night at Polichna, north of Zvolen, was also retiring slowly 
north-east. Our division was on the extreme left. 

The 4th Army has headquarters at Lyublin, and has 
thrown forward the Grenadier Corps to Novo Alexandriya 
and the XVIth Corps to Ivangorod. The Grenadier 
Corps has one brigade in strong entrenchments west of the 
river. The corps is said to have arrived only three days 

The gth Army headquarters moved three days ago from 
Zolbnev to Krasnik. The Guard Corps is said to be at 

It looks almost as if the Russians were going to confine 
themselves for the present to the passive defensive on the 
line of the upper Vistula. Will, in that case, the German 
strength suffice to carry the offensive across the river, and 
even if it does, will it touch anything vital ? It is thought 
that the enemy has the Guard Reserve Corps, the XXth and 
Xlth Corps, and there is at all events one Austrian corps 
on his right. If the blow has been struck with only four 
corps it has fallen in the air and has failed. The Russians 
will hold the enemy in front with the 4th and gth Armies 
and will turn his left with a mass of cavalry thrown out on 
their right. 

If the German advance has failed strategically, it has 

September-October, 1914 135 

caused a lot of suffering. It was heartbreaking to see the 
cartloads of families moving east as we retired. Parents 
with their whole families, including tiny babies, huddled 
together with all their belongings in the long Polish carts 
and shivering in the cold and rain. The people did not 
fly before the Austrian advance. 

We dined at the same restaurant in Novo Alexandriya 
where I had dined two and a half years ago. General 
Novikov was there with the requisite amount of cavalry 
swagger and moustache-pulling. We had a barbaric meal 
with long delays and hardly anything to drink but brandy, 
then rode eight versts through still pouring rain to the 
country house where we put up for the night. 

The I4th Division had three reconnoitring squadrons 
still out when it crossed the river. Nothing had been 
heard of them for a week, but it is hoped that some of 
them may make their way back over other bridges, 

Thursday, October 8th, 1914. WARSAW. 

It appears that the 4th and Qth Armies are deployed 
along the Vistula. The headquarters of the 4th Army 
are at Lyublin and of the Qth Army at Krasnik. 

General Erdeli told me that the 2nd Army is in advance 
of Warsaw. All cavalry has been ordered to rest four days 
at Novo-Alexandriya and then to move by short marches 
north to Warsaw. What I think will be the decisive battle 
in this theatre may begin in a week's time. 

I said good-bye to the I4th Division at n a.m. yester- 
day and rode from our billets to the station at Novo- 
Alexandriya. I really believe these fellows were sorry that 
I left. I, at any rate, was very sorry, for I had made 
friends with them and felt at ease. 

I had to wait five hours at the station at Novo-Alexan- 
driya for a train. . At length I got a lift to Ivangorod and 
was lucky in getting on from there by a train which brought 
me within three miles of Warsaw by 6.30 a.m. to-day, 

136 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 


Of the fifteen days I had spent with the I4th Cavalry Division, 
we marched thirteen days and halted two. In our marches we 
covered 424 versts, or 280 miles an average of nearly twenty-two 
miles for each marching day. This is what the staff rode, but the 
troops, of course, covered far more. 

I would like to have remained longer with the division or to 
have gone to an infantry division, for, as in all armies, the nearer 
one gets to the front the better fellows one finds, but I realised 
that it was my duty to go to some larger staff further in the rear 
whence I could get a wider view and obtain more accurate in- 
formation of the operations. I therefore remained a couple of 
days in Warsaw to write a despatch and then returned to the 
staff of the Qth Army. 

The short time I spent with the I4th Cavalry Division left me 
with a whole-hearted admiration for the Russian cavalry soldier 
a fine man well mounted. If the Russian cavalry did not attain 
in the war the results that were hoped from its vast numerical 
superiority over the enemy cavalry, it was not the fault of the 
trooper or of his officers up to the rank of squadron leader. 
There is no doubt that the higher cavalry command lacked in 
many cases initiative and dash, and the determination to push 
through an enterprise to its logical conclusion regardless of loss, 
and from this lack the Russian cause in general suffered. This 
was, however, not the case in the I4th Division, for Erdeli was a 
fine divisional leader and Sencha a dashing brigadier. 

I never met the I4th Division again, though I frequently came 
across officers that I had ridden with in South- West Poland in the 
autumn of 1914. The division continued to do fine service till 
after the retreat from Poland ten months later. It was then 
allotted with other cavalry divisions to a passive sector of the 
Dvina between Dvinsk and Jacobstadt, and remained there for 
nearly two years. It remained loyal long after many infantry 
divisions had succumbed, and formed part of the column that was 
sent to Petrograd in July> 1917, to quell the Bolshevik revolt. 

Erdeli was promoted to command the 2nd Guard Cavalry 

September -October, 1914 137 

Division and passed many months with it in the Pinsk marshes. 
Then, tiring of inaction, he transferred to the command of an 
infantry division in the Carpathians. In the spring of 1917 he 
was promoted to command the XXXth Corps, and just before the 
last Russian offensive in July, 1917, he was given command of 
the right offensive army, the nth, in Galicia. I often saw him 
then. Though an aristocrat and an A.D.G. to the Emperor, he 
worked his best to save the Russian army, accepting against his 
better judgment the crazy committee system. He was arrested 
in September, 1917, and confined with the patriot Kornilov. With 
him he escaped and he has since fought in Southern Russia with 
Alexyeev, Deniken and Wr angel. 

I never saw Sencha again, but will always remember his fine, 
martial figure, rolled in a trailing " burkha." He became chief 
of staff of a cavalry corps. 

Poor Westphalen was appointed to the command of a regi- 
ment in the division, and was killed at the head of his men in a 
grand charge on the Narev in August, 1915. He was a simple, 
modest gentleman. The Bolsheviks have now got the big German 
pistol he gave me to keep for him till the end of the war. 

Shapojnikov served for long in the Intelligence staff of the 
Western Front, and there I frequently saw him. He became 
later chief of staff of a Cossack cavalry division. He maintained 
his reputation everywhere as an especially able officer. 

Poor Plotnikov, the dashing patrol-leader and fine horseman, 
who had ridden through Pinchov with me and had grown senti- 
mental as we passed through the woods where he had gathered 
mushrooms with his wife, was shot through the heart a few months 
later while on reconnaissance. He had a strange presentiment 
of his approaching death and had that morning ordered his kit 
to be packed and addressed to his wife. 

General Novikov was appointed later to command the 
XLIIIrd Corps in the Riga bridgehead, and I saw him there in 
February, 1916. He was the same big handsome man, but was 
commencing to put on flesh. Talking over the days of 1914, he 
told me that he calculated that his Cavalry Corps had delayed the 
German advance on Warsaw no less than five days. I disagreed 

138 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

with him, for the enemy opposed to the i/jth Cavalry Division at 
all events marched fifteen versts a day regularly. 

Novikov told me that he had telegraphed to General Lechitski 
that he considered it his duty to warn him that the Guard Rifle 
Brigade was in a very dangerous position at Opatov. Lechitski 
issued orders for the brigade to retire, but these were received 
too late, for it was already in action. 1 

Colonel Dreyer, General Novikov's Chief of Staff, came to 
grief, and after some weeks of unemployment was appointed 
Chief of Staff to an infantry division. His division was an- 
nihilated in the disaster to the loth Army in February, 1915, but 
he escaped, carrying with him copies of the operation orders. 

1 See Chapter IV. 






ON September 2ist the Russian armies in Galicia lay as 
follows from right to left : 1 

gth Army (Lechitski), on the line of the river Wistoka ; 
Guard Rifle Brigade, XVIIIth, XlVth Corps with XVIth Corps 
in reserve on the left. 

4th Army (Ewarth), on line Kreshov-Lezajsk-Sieniawa ; 
Guard, Grenadier, Illrd Caucasian. 

5th Army (Plehve), on line Sieniawa-Jaroslau ; XXVth, 
XlXth, Vth and XVIIth. 

The line was continued to the south-east by the 3rd Army 
(Radko Dimitriev) and the 8th Army (Brusilov). 

After reaching the San the Russians did not press the retreat- 
ing Austrians with any vigour. They had had heavy losses and 
awaited reinforcements. They had out-marched their radius of 
supply, and men and horses were on short rations. The Russian 
armies were now suffering from the policy of the Russian Govern- 
ment, which had consistently vetoed " on strategical grounds ' 
the construction of railways in the Government of Lyublin. The 
policy had aimed at the formation of a Polish bastion : Grodna- 
Osovets-Lomj a-Ostrolenka-Novo Georgievsk-I vangorod-Lyublin- 
Kholm, developing railway and road communications within 
this bastion to the utmost, and leaving the frontier beyond a 

1 See Map No. III. 

140 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

roadless glacis, regardless of all peace economic considerations. 
The theatre had been prepared in peace for a defensive war ; it 
ill suited the Grand Duke's chivalrous wish to come as rapidly as 
possible to the aid of his Allies in the west. 

From the point of view of supply, far too many Russians had 
been thrown into Galicia. One or two of the five armies should 
have been withdrawn either north or else thrown across the 
Vistula into south-west Poland to rest and refit on the railways. 
It is said that the Supreme Command wished to withdraw a part 
of the forces to the north, but was opposed by General Ivanov on 
the ground that his Intelligence showed the bulk of the Austrians 
to be concentrating south of PrzemysL The Russians had not 
yet learnt that the exact location of the Austrian concentration 
was only a minor matter and that the supreme factor in the 
Eastern theatre was the German railway system and the power 
it gave Hindenburg to concentrate superior German force sud- 
denly and unexpectedly in any direction. 

On September 22nd, owing to the crowded front, the Grena- 
dier, the Illrd Caucasian and the XVIth Corps received orders 
to move north. The Guard was handed over by the 4th Army to 
the gth Army. 

On September 23rd the first information was received of the 
enemy advance in trans- Vistula-Poland. 

When it became evident to the Russian Command that the 
bulk of the enemy's forces were advancing from the line Krakau- 
Bendin-Chenstokhov and that a rapid change of front to the west 
had become necessary, the question arose whether it would be 
possible to effect this change in time to meet the German advance 
on the left bank of the Vistula and at a sufficient distance from 
that river to make it safe to accept battle. Lechitski, the G.O.G. 
Qth Army, wished to take his army across at Sandomir and 
Zavikhost and to offer battle somewhere on the line Radom- 
Opatov. Ivanov, the Commander-in-Chief of the South-West 
Front, insisted on the whole wheel taking place in rear of the 
Vistula. This was undoubtedly the safer course, for it is very 
doubtful whether the Russians would have had time after the 
signalling of the German offensive to throw sufficient force across 

30th September, 1914. Lagov, S.W. Poland. Cooking carts. 

[See page 122 

?th November, 1014. Railway bridge N. of Kyeltsi destroyed by the Germans. 

T:>fce pnge 140] [See page 170 

14th November, 1914. Railway demolished near Myekhov. 

[Seepage 176 

14th November, 1914. Western end of tunnel N. of Myekhov, 

demolished by the Germans. 

[See page 176 

October-December, 1914 141 

the river to meet the enemy's advance at a safe distance. The 
course adopted, however, had grave disadvantages. It neces- 
sitated the abandonment of all trans-Vistula Poland to the 
enemy, it brought great hardship on the troops who had to retire 
over the few roads of the Lyublin Government, where supply 
arrangements were quite inadequate, and it entailed eventual 
heavy loss in forcing the passage of the Vistula in face of the 

Though Lechitski was not allowed to carry out his idea in its 
entirety, he sent the Guard Rifle Brigade across the Vistula on 
September 30th to join the 2nd Rifle Brigade, with the idea 
apparently of delaying the enemy's advance. 

On the morning of October 3rd the Guard Rifle Brigade was 
facing south-west at Opatov. On its left was the 2nd Rifle 
Brigade, and further south was the 8oth Division, which, however, 
during the day retired to Sandomir. It is said that General Del- 
salle, the commander of the Guard Rifle Brigade, expected his 
right to be covered by the I4th Cavalry Division in the direction 
of Ostrovets. So far from the I4th Division having been told 
to cover the right flank of the Rifles, we expected, in that division, 
as it turned out, wrongly, that our retirement that day through 
Ostrovets would be secured by the 2nd Rifle Brigade. General 
Mannerheim, with the Independent Cavalry Brigade of the 
Guard, moved from Delsalle's left to his right when he heard that 
that flank was uncovered. The Guard blamed the staff of the 
9th Army for the subsequent disaster. There was undoubtedly 
bad staff work, but there is also no doubt that Delsalle held on to 
his position dangerously long. 

The Rifles were attacked by overwhelming forces at 9 a.m. 
on October 4th. They retired at 3.30 p.m. on Sandomir and their 
large losses, amounting to 100 officers, 8,000 rank and file, 9 guns 
and 21 machine-guns, were chiefly from gun-fire during the 
retreat. Two regiments of the Guard Rifles lost about 80 
per cent. 

On September 25th the order was issued for the 9th and 5th 
Armies to follow the 4th in a general movement to the north. 
On that date, the gth Army occupied the same position as on the 

142 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

2ist, but the Guard had come up on its left flank. The 5th Army 
had advanced to the line Sokolow-Lancut-Jawornik. 

The whole of the 5th Army moved north on September 25th, 
and also the Guard. On the 28th the remainder of the gth 
Army, viz., the XVIIIth and the XlVth Corps, commenced their 
retirement down the right bank of the Vistula. 

By October 6th units of the three armies were aligned along 
the Vistula from north to south as follows : 


Illrd Caucasian Corps . . . . North of Ivangorod. 

XVIth Corps and 75th Division Ivangorod. 

Grenadier Corps . . . . Novo Alexandriya. 

Guard Corps . . , . . . Centre at Yuzefov. 

XVIIIth Corps . . . . Centre at Annopol. 

XlVth . . . . South of Zavikhost. 

XXVth .. .. On the San. 

The remaining corps of the 5th Army, the Vth, XlXth and 
XVIIth, were in reserve in rear of the XXVth Corps. 

The Illrd Caucasian and the Grenadier Corps had moved via 
Krasnik and Lyublin. 

On October 7th the 5th Army commenced its further retire- 
ment by the same road to Lyublin and thence by rail to the 
neighbourhood of Gura Kalvarya, south of Warsaw. It had 
mostly cleared Lyublin by October I5th. The XXVth Corps 
was handed over to the gth Army. 

As the troops of the three armies moved north, the line of the 
River San was taken over by Radko Dimitriev's 3rd Army. 

The Russians are justifiably proud of the great change of front 
they made to meet the German advance. The distance was not 
great, but the move was made at the cost of extreme privation to 
the troops, as the miserable roads had been rendered, according 
to Western ideas, impassable by the incessant rain and did not 
admit of adequate and regular supply. 

The 4th Army in its retreat was able to draw a certain quantity 
of supplies from the Vistula. The 5th Army, following by the 
same route, was in worse case, for the roads had been broken up. 
It is said to have been six days without bread, and the men were 

October-December, 1914 143 

exhausted. The Qth Army in its move north drew supplies from 
its depots previously established at Sandomir and Krasnik. 

Meanwhile the enemy occupied all south-west Poland, the 
Russian line in Galicia was retired to the San and the siege of 
Przemysl was raised. This, however, was the sum of the enemy's 
success. His attempts to cross the San and the Vistula failed, 
and the Russians prepared to check his offensive by a counter 
offensive movement directed in a southerly direction against his 
left flank from the line Novo-Georgievsk- Warsaw. According to 
a German authority 1 the enemy Command then decided to move 
the point of his offensive north against Warsaw to meet the 
Russian attack. 

The idea was a bold one, but showed at once the enemy's 
contempt for the Russian fighting power and the defectiveness of 
his own Intelligence. The enemy forces were unequal to the task. 
They, indeed, on October nth reached aline eleven versts from 
the capital, but the Russians had now for once the best of the 
communications and their strength was gathering fast. The 2nd 
Army was already at Warsaw, the ist Army was concentrating 
in the neighbourhood from the north-east, leaving its place on 
the borders of East Prussia to the loth Army. The splendid 
Siberian troops were pouring in by rail, the Bologoe-Syedlets 
strategical railway that had only run three pairs of trains in 
peace working up to fifty-two pairs. All attempts by the 
Austrians to drive Radko Dimitriev back from the San proved 
unavailing. The enemy was compelled to retreat from the Polish 

Monday, October I2th, 1914. LYUBLIN. 

Warsaw was in something of a panic, caused chiefly by 
villagers crowding in from the area of operations. It 
appears that the Russians are on a defensive line 
previously prepared and running from Sokhachev by 
Skernevitsi to Groitsi. All Russians are confident, but that 
proves nothing ; they are such optimists. 

1 Baron von Ardenne, Der Feldzug in Polen, Georg Huller, Munchen, 1915. 

144 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

I saw Poiret, the French flying man, in the evening. He 
was pessimistic and said that if the Russians allowed 
Warsaw to be taken it would show that they were " jolly 
well beaten." He said that the Russians had six to seven 
corps west of Warsaw. His pessimism may have been 
partly because he had been fired on during the day 
by Russians, and one Russian pilot had eleven bullets 
through the wings of his machine. 

I left Warsaw by the 7 a.m. train for Lukov en route 
to Lyublin on Sunday the nth. The crowd at the station 
was awful, and I had to fight my way to my compartment. 
I had a Polish doctor in with me. He said that the 
sanitary state of the hospitals left much to be desired. 
They are often in empty barracks, which are saturated with 
dirt ; doctors have too much to do ; his ten doctors have 
to attend to 600 wounded. 

I gather from various sources that the situation is as 
follows : 

The Russians have assumed the offensive. The 4th 
Army commenced to cross the Vistula from Ivangorod and 
Novo Alexandriya at 3 a.m. on the gth. They were 
turned back by the enemy's heavy artillery. The strongly- 
fortified bridgehead at Novo Alexandriya was abandoned ; 
the enemy's shell fell on the pontoon bridge, which was 
destroyed and many buildings in Novo Alexandriya were 
set on fire. On the evening of the nth the enemy's shell 
injured the railway between Ivangorod and Novo Alex- 
andriya. On the afternoon of the I2th communication 
was re-established. This was not a very auspicious 
commencement to the Russian offensive, but Russians 
talked of it as merely " a local success for the enemy." 

I had a comfortable journey on the nth as far as Lukov, 
where I changed. I then went on in a filthy second-class 
carriage with six officers returning from wound leave. 
We travelled fairly comfortably till i a.m., when we were 
turned out twelve versts from Lyublin and put in an un- 
heated goods wagon with my horses. We reached a 

October-December, 1914 145 

station seven versts from Lyublin and then waited four 
hours, finally getting into an ambulance train. The hotels 
were all full. I got into an empty private apartment, 
which was bitterly cold, but had a roof at all events. It 
rained all day as it did most of yesterday. Many of the 
men here look tired out, but Russian officers say the rain 
is a good thing, as the Russians can stand hardship better 
than the town-bred Germans. 

The station at Lyublin is crowded with men of all arms 
and units. Some of them have been " waiting " for two 
days. The Assistant Station Commandant told me that 
he had sent off twenty-six trains yesterday by the single 
line to Ivangorod and by the double line to the same place 
via Lukov not a great feat, but one of which he was 
evidently proud. As far as communications are con- 
cerned, the Russians have the advantage in the present 
situation, but if they cannot use their railways to better 
effect, this will avail them little. 

The office of the Commandant of the Line of Communi- 
cations is crowded to suffocation with men of all units, 
returning from wound and sick leave, all trying to find their 
units a task for which a very Sherlock Holmes is required. 
The building consists of four small rooms, opening out of 
one another. In the two inner rooms the work is carried 
on, in the first by clerks, in the second by officers. The 
bulk of the work is done apparently by the adjutant, who 
has more than any one man could possibly do. All the 
windows are shut, the smell and filth are awful. Each 
door has a sentry, sometimes two, with rifles, and they stop 
everyone except officers. This department has to house 
and feed all odd men as well as to direct them to their 
units in the field. 

Wednesday, October itfh, 1914. KRASNIK. 

It is said that a Jew was caught carrying a German 

officer in a sack across the bridge at Ivangorod. Both men 

were hung. If the story is true the Jew must have had 


146 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

more muscle than most of his race, and the officer must 
have been specially chosen for his diminutive size. 

I rode out of Lyublin at 9.30 a.m. on Tuesday and 
reached Krasnik (thirty miles) at 5.45. The road was in a 
dreadful state. Originally a chaussec, it had been broken 
up by heavy artillery, pontoons, etc., and owing to the 
recent rains the whole was covered with several inches of 
liquid mud. This made it impossible to see the holes and 
quite dangerous to ride on the road. Carts had spread 
over the country to a distance of 300 yards on either side 
of the road. On the very outside one saw infantry 
struggling along on the comparatively good going of the 
water-logged plough land. 

The rain came down in torrents till i p.m. The ground 
for ten miles south of Lyublin to Krasnik was cut up with 
trenches. The whole road is littered with dead horses. 
My orderly said he simply could not look at them. We 
saw a man going round with a bag collecting dead horses' 
shoes. The whole way the cannonade of big guns roared 
along the Vistula. 

At dinner I sat between General Gulevich, the Chief of 
Staff, and Colonel Bazarov. General Gulevich thinks that 
the war may be over by February. Bazarov, who was 
Military Attache at Berlin up to the outbreak of war, is 
more pessimistic. 

A cannonade with big guns has been going on across 
the Vistula for three days, but has not been renewed 
to-day. The Germans are concentrating their main army 
west of Warsaw, and their whole line is moving north to 
that point. They have the best of the road conditions, 
for the roads west of the Vistula are far better than those 
on the east. 

According to orders received at 2 a.m. on the I4th, the 
5th Army, which is now between Warsaw and Ivangorod 
on the right of the 4th Army, will go to Warsaw to support 
the 2nd Army. The 4th Army will move north, occupying 
the line Warsaw (exclusive) -Ivangorod (inclusive), the 

October-December, 1914 147 

9th Army will take the line Ivangorod (exclusive) - 

In four days, i.e., by the evening of the i8th, the 4th 
and Qth armies will have reached their new positions. It 
is obvious that the 5th Army cannot concentrate west of 
Warsaw by that date. 

The river Pilitsa, a left bank tributary of the Vistula, 
will form the dividing line between the area of Ruzski's 
(loth, ist, 2nd and 5th) and Ivanov's (4th, gth, 3rd and 
8th armies) groups. 

The danger is that the 2nd Army west of Warsaw five 
corps with the Ilnd Corps arriving to make a sixth may 
be crushed by superior forces before they can be reinforced. 

The Germans are said to have sixteen corps and he 
Austrians fifteen (of which three are reserve), but all the 
German Corps are of two divisions, while several of the 
Russian Corps have three and the Austrian Corps are of 
inferior fighting power. 

The Illrd Caucasian Corps, which crossed the river at 
Kozenitse, north of Ivangorod, has been engaged with the 
enemy during the past two days. 

Thursday, October 15^, 1914. LYUBLIN. 

We left Krasnik at 6 a.m., before daylight. I rode. 
The General with his Chief-of-Staff, Gulevich, Ganta- 
cuzene, 1 Benkendorf 2 and Bazarov, started in motors. 
They found after a few miles that the road was quite 
impassable, and had to join me on horseback, General 
Gulevich, who is any thing but a horseman, very reluctantly. 
We reached Lyublin at noon and Lechitski had a con- 
ference with Ivanov, the Commander-in-Chief of the Front, 
and Ewarth, the commander of the neighbouring 4th 

1 Prince Cantacuzene was A.D.C. to General Gulevich. He had been lent 
to General Erdeli in a similar capacity. 

a Lieutenant Benkendorf, who had served in the Russian Embassy in Berlin, 
was in the Censor Department, 

148 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

Lechitski is a fine old man and a good horseman. He 
took us at a great pace to-day. He said, in talking to me, 
that the delay in finally squashing Austria was owing to 
Russia's miserable communications. The armies could 
not move sufficiently rapidly as it was impossible to victual 

Friday, October i6th, 1914. LYUBLIN. 

Suvorov, who was on the district staff at St. Petersburg, 
and whom I knew before the war, slept in a room with me 
at the Victoria Hotel. He is now attached to the Army 
Commander's Staff " for special service," in other words, 
he is a personal friend of Lechitski 's, who uses him for odd 
jobs. He tells me that the General has little education, 
having only finished four classes of a clerical school. He 
went through the Chinese war, and was a battalion com- 
mander at the commencement of the Japanese campaign. 
He ended this campaign as a regiment commander. 
Later General Danilov, when in command of the Guard 
Corps, procured through the Grand Duke Nikolaivich his 
appointment to the command of one of the divisions of 
the Guard and he then visited Petrograd practically for 
the first time, all his previous services having been spent 
in the Far East. When he was in command of the Pri- 
Amur Military District, before the war, he made his Chief 
of Staff read him lectures on tactics for two hours every 
day. He is shy and a great grumbler, but has a firm will. 

An officer came in in the morning to say that all was 
quiet at Warsaw and there was no panic. The Germans, 
who were at one time within eleven versts, have been driven 
back to twenty-five. Great slaughter on both sides. 

The Qth Army has received orders to cross on the night 
of the igth-20th, but its pontoon train, which is now on its 
way back from the San, cannot arrive before the 22nd. 
As Gulevich says, the operation, which will be opposed by 
an enemy who has had time to fortify, will be a very 
dangerous one. I wonder if it would be possible to leave 

October-December, 1914 149 

a mere skeleton to mask the Vistula front and to move an 
overwhelming force via Warsaw against his left and rear. 
Gulevich estimates the German strength on the front 
Sandomir-Warsaw at not less than eleven corps. He 
regrets that we did not hold tetes-de-pont on the left bank. 
" The 9th Army should have held the line Ostrovets- 
Opatov-Klimontov in force and the 4th Army, which 
halted in the neighbourhood of Ivangorod for six days, 
should have met the enemy at Radom." Either army 
with three corps would, he thinks, have been able to defend 

Friday, October i6th, 1914. LYUBLIN. 

The gth Army is to get heavy guns from Ivangorod for 
the crossing on Sunday night. 

The railway between Ivangorod and Novo-Alexandriya 
is still closed for traffic, owing to the fire of the enemy's 
heavy guns. The Germans have succeeded in igniting a 
kerosene tank at Ivangorod. 

Yesterday Suvorov and I went to the Post Office to 
see about the letters for the 9th Army. The Chief 
' Chinovnik ' calmly explained that he had 2,000 puds 
(thirty-two tons) of letters for us. His excuse was that he 
had been unable to get carts from the Governor to send 
them. A man like this should be hung when one remembers 
how poor fellows at the front long for news from home. 
He showed us the enormous bags, piles and piles of them. 

Saturday, October ijth, 1914. LYUBLIN, 

The new development to-day is an Austrian advance on 
the extreme Russian left, near the Carpathians. The 
enemy's strength is only estimated at most at three corps, 
but it may be greater in view of his weakness on our front. 
Ivanov has given Brusilov the two second-line corps that 
were used for the blockade of Przemysl so that he has now 
five army corps, and on his left two Cossack cavalry divi- 
sions. Radko-Dimitriev has five corps. Both Generals 

150 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

have been told to retire, if necessary, slowly, disputing 
every inch of ground, pending a decision west of the 
Vistula. There should be no cause for fear. 

The Qth Army consists at present of eleven and a half 
infantry and three and a half cavalry divisions. 

The Guard has two and a half infantry divisions and 
; \\ , the XlVth, XVIIIth and XXVth Corps have each a third 
(reserve) division. The cavalry consists of the 3rd Divi- 
sion, the I3th Division, 3rd Caucasian Cossack Division 
and the Independent Guard Brigade. 

Apparently the 5th Army is not to go to Warsaw, but 
is to attempt to cross the Vistula near Gura Kalvarya, 
The 2nd Army is to advance its left to-day to attempt to 
occupy Pyesechno. 

The Illrd Caucasian and the XVTIth Corps (4th Army), 
which have crossed the Vistula at Kozenitse, north of 
Ivangorod, appear to make little progress. We have asked 
for permission to postpone our crossing till the 23rd, and 
should hear from Ivanov this evening. 

Sunday, October iSth, 1914. LYUBLIN. 

The distribution expected to be attained by this 
evening will not be realised. The Illrd Caucasian Corps 
has lost 8,000 men in four days at Kozenitse from the 
converging fire of the enemy's heavy artillery. The 
XVIIth Corps on its right flank has also suffered severely. 
The 9th Army will take over Ivangorod. 

Tuesday, October 2oth, 1914. LYUBLIN. 

The 9th Army has handed over all its pontoons to the 
4th Army. Pending their return, the army has been 
ordered to '* occupy " the enemy in its front. Telegrams 
to-night reported that the 2nd Army met with only weak 
resistance in its advance south and south-west from 
Warsaw. The advanced guards of the XlXth and Vth 
Corps of the 5th Army are crossing at Gura Kalvarya. 

If the Germans have not something up their sleeve 


October -December, 1914 

in the Thorn direction to throw against Warsaw when 
our 2nd Army has been drawn south, the whole of their 
movement must be a demonstration, for otherwise with 
the time we have allowed them, they would have con- 
centrated sufficient force to crush the 2nd Army and occupy 
Warsaw. Are they waiting for the heavy guns that took 
Antwerp ? 

Orders were received to-day from the Commander-in- 
Chief of the Front to reduce the establishment of guns in 
batteries in the event of shortage of horses, but on no 
account to reduce the number of ammunition wagons. 

Wednesday t October 2 is/, 1914. * LYUBLIN. 

Instructions were received from Ivanov at 3 a.m, that 
the Guard is to march to-day to Ivangorod and cross to 
the left of the Illrd Caucasian Corps to-morrow, 22nd. 
The pontoons sent up to the 4th Army are being returned 
by rail and when they have been received the XXVth and 
XlVth Corps will cross at Novo Alexandriya. This will 
probably be in two or three days. Heavy artillery is 
being moved to cover the crossing. I leave by motor-car 
to-morrow morning to join the staff of the Guard Corps. 
The XVIIIth Corps moves to Opole. 

The presence of three more Austrian corps is reported 
on Brusilov's left centre. 

Circular instructions were issued to-night to units of 
the gth Army. The Germans have retired sixty versts 
from the Vistula on the line Warsaw-Ivangorod, yesterday 
and to-day. We are to follow. On our right the XVIIth 
Corps and the Illrd Caucasian Corps are advancing and 
the Ural (Cossack Cavalry) Division of the same army 
(4th) has crossed the river at Pavlovitse to pursue the 
enemy in the direction of Radom. On our left, part of the 
units of the 3rd Army have been thrown across the San. 
The Guard Cavalry Brigade reached Ivangorod to-day and 
the Guard Corps is nearing that fortress. 

1 See Map No. V. 

152 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

To-morrow, the 22nd, the Guard Corps crosses at 
Ivangorod and advances south of the railway. The 
XXVth Corps will cross by a pontoon bridge at Novo 
Alexandriya and advance by the chaussee on Zvolen. 
The XlVth Corps will march from Opole and reach Novo 
Alexandriya in two days. The XVIIIth Corps is to 
cross as best it can, but higher up the river. 

The 46th and 8oth Divisions, in conjunction with the 
XXIst Corps, will advance across the San. 

The 1 3th Cavalry Division will cross at Ivangorod and 
reconnoitre south and on the left of the Ural Division. 

The 1st Don Cossack Division will cross the river at 
Yanovets, south of Novo Alexandriya, by the night of 
the 23rd. 

The 3rd Caucasian Cossack Division will cross the San 
and reconnoitre in advance of the 46th and Both Divisions. 

These orders were sent by telegraph, flying post and 
motor cyclists to all corps. 

It is reported from the Front that the Germans have 
fortified the area Chenstokhov-Olkush-Myekhov. It is 
possible that they may have chosen this area, based on a 
thick railway net to offer a prolonged resistance. The 
Russians will have the usual disadvantage of bad com- 
munications to contend with. 

Thursday, October 22nd, 1914. IVANGOROD. 

When I went to say good-bye to Lechitski before 
leaving to join the Guard Corps, I found the old man in 
splendid spirits. He said : "The enemy has evidently 
heard you are coming, for he is in full retreat ! ' 

We left Lyublin by motor at twelve noon and arrived 
at Ivangorod at 4 p.m. We drove through a large quantity 
of transport, partly that of the Guard Corps, and the whole 
of the 1st Guard Infantry Division and Rifle Brigade. 
Russian infantry regiments on the march move regardless 
of order, but at a fine pace if not impeded by transport in 

October -December, 1914 153 

front. There is no march discipline in our sense of the 
word, for no interval and no formation is kept. 

Soon after we reached Ivangorod a cannonade was 
audible in the south-west and north-west. I walked 
across the bridge with Rodzianko, the General's A.D.C., 
who has been placed in charge of me, and we saw the 
enemy's shells bursting about three versts from the river 
and just south of the railway. All of this does not chime 
in with the idea that the enemy has retired sixty versts, 
but it may, of course, be only a farewell demonstration. 

It struck me that the second-line transport of the 
Guard was too close up, for it crossed the river im- 
mediately in rear of the regiments. The transport seemed 
enormous in quantity. 

Some Austrian prisoners who gave themselves up west 
of Ivangorod stated that the Germans are concentrating 
at Radom, and that two Austrian corps have come to help 

Friday, October z^rd, 1914. IVANGOROD. 

I slept last night in extreme comfort in a tiny room 
by myself ! Rodzianko, Lovshin l and Grabbe l were in a 
larger room next door and the servants beyond. I went 
in the morning to pay my respects to Count Nostitz, the 
Chief of Staff, and to General Bezobrazov, the Commander 
of the Corps. Both are charming. 

The 2nd Division of the Guard and one brigade of the 
ist Division only succeeded in crossing the river last 
night. The other brigade of the ist Division and the 
Guard Rifle Brigade bivouacked by the roadside. Luckily 
it was fine. To-day the 2nd Division of the Guard on our 
right was in touch with the Illrd Caucasian Corps ; the 
ist Division had come up in line on its left and the Rifle 
Brigade was in reserve. 

After lunch we rode out through the village of Klyash- 
torna Volya, where we found the G.O.C. 2nd Division in 

1 Colonels attached to the staff of the Guard Corps. 

154 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

touch by telephone with his regimental commanders. He 
was in the cottage where he had slept the night before. 
We then rode on, following the sound of the firing till we 
found three batteries in action supporting some three 
battalions of the Findlandski and Pavlovski Regiments, 
extended on a front of four versts on the line Vyes-Zavada- 
Kotsiolki, beating back repeated Austrian attacks from 
the south. The firing was very heavy and we met several 
wounded, fine fellows, only keen to get back to the firing- 

We came back in complete darkness and had some 
difficulty in finding our way over the awful roads, blocked 
by the parks carrying ammunition to the Front. Im- 
mediately it was dark, the cooking carts moved out from 
the nearest village to the men in the fighting line. We 
passed two columns of supports moving up silent and 
determined. I have an intense admiration for the Russian 
Guardsman. When he has officers to lead there is no 
soldier in the world like him. He would be hard to beat 
if the supply services only ensured his regular rations. 

Ivangorod had made preparations for a regular siege. 
The Germans have been entrenched on the edge of a wood, 
five versts west of the fortress, for twelve days, and only 
left on the night of the 20th-2ist. The entrenchments 
that I saw were badly sited and badly made. They are 
now occupied by a detachment of our Opolchenie and I 
saw fifteen of our dead who had remained unburied by the 
Germans for nine days with their eyes still open a grue- 
some sight. 

Darkness brought no rest for the 2nd Division. As 
we rode back, the guns and machine-guns were still at work 
and gunfire was almost continuous up to 10.30. We heard 
the Austrians had attempted a night attack against the 
Moskovski Regiment, but failed. 

There is a large staff in the Guard Corps. The General 
Staff includes the Chief of Staff, Count Nostitz, Colonel 

October-December, 1914 155 

Domanevski a worker, and five captains, including 
Engelhardt, who was a member of the Duma and Reporter 
on the Military Budget. 

The question is, where the Prussians, relieved here by 
the Austrians, have gone. Engelhardt thinks they have 
moved north to support the Warsaw group. In that case 
we shall push rapidly here to threaten their rear. The 
XXVth Corps crossed the Vistula yesterday. 

The three batteries seen to-day were in echelon and in 
covered positions. It was interesting to watch the dif- 
ference between the Austrian shell, which gives rose- 
coloured smoke, and the German, which gives white. 

Saturday, October 24th, 1914. IVANGOROD. 

The 2nd Division was attacked eleven times during the 

night, but held its ground along most of the front. The 

enemy forced his way to Kotsiolki. This village and the 

wood south east of it were taken again at 5 p.m. to-day. 

The front occupied by the 2nd Division of the Guard 
after forty-eight hours continuous fighting, remains pretty 
much the same. A line of seven versts is held by thirteen 
battalions of the division, and is divided into two sections, 
each of which is under a brigade commander. The units 
are necessarily much mixed up, as the section held at first 
by the Finlandski Regiment has been reinforced by the 
other three regiments. The right section has no local 
reserve, the left has one battalion. One battalion of the 
division is on escort duty to artillery and transport, and 
two battalions are in general Corps Reserve. The line 
from the left of the 2nd Division is carried on by the ist 
Division, and this is now in touch with the right of the 
XXVth Corps, which completed its crossing at Novo 
Alexandriya yesterday and was joined on its left by the 
XlVth Corps to-day. The Illrd Caucasian Corps on our 
right advanced considerably to-day. 

156 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

Engelhardt, who explained the position to me to-night, 
considers that the duration of the war largely depends on 
the result of the operation now in hand by the Qth Army 
in conjunction with the Illrd Caucasian and XVIIth 
Corps. We have six corps, i.e., XVIIth, Illrd Caucasian, 
Guard, XXVth, XlVth and XVIIIth, in addition to the 
75th Reserve Division at Ivangorod, which ensures our 
line of communications. If these six corps can roll up 
the three Austrians opposed to them rapidly, the!7-g German 
Corps operating against our Warsaw front will be forced 
to retire rapidly as they are opposed by nine corps, as 
follows : 

1st and Ilnd, 1st and Ilnd Siberian, IVth, XXIIIrd, 
XXVIIth of the 2nd Army and the Vth and XlXth of the 
5th Army. 

We visited to-day a battery of the Illrd Caucasian 
Howitzer Division in action from the north of Garbatka 
against Polichna. The officers said they had crossed the 
river twelve days ago. During the whole time they had 
been in action against German heavy artillery, but their 
concealed position in a wood had never been discovered, 
and they had only had a .single casualty, a scout, killed. 
A German aeroplane had located their sister battery and 
dropped a flare on to it as a signal to his own artillery, 
which presently opened with crushing effect. 

Sunday, October 2$th } 1914. IVANGOROD. 

We started before eight, and rode out to Setsekhov, where 
where we saw the G.O.G. Guard Rifle Brigade. He told 
us the Austrians had retired at daylight from in front of 
the 2nd Division. The ist Division was nearing the line 
Sarnov-Khekhli. Polichna had been occupied by the mrd 
Caucasian Corps. The Guard Cavalry Brigade was being 
sent through in that direction to operate against the enemy's 
left, and the Rifle Brigade was to follow. We rode to the 
wood south-west of Kotsiolki, which had been captured 
by our fellows yesterday, and found the enemy had only 

October -December, 1914 157 

retired to the northern outskirts of Berdzsja. The Rifle 
Brigade did not start till i p.m. or later. The fighting 
to-day was almost entirely by artillery. I don't know 
what orders the Guard have got, but they are certainly 
not hurrying themselves in their advance. This is the 
fourth night that the G.O.C. 2nd Division remains in one 

East of the wood which was taken by our men at noon 
yesterday, the Austrian trenches were in three tiers, about 
seventy yards apart. Each row provided cover standing, 
and was of low profile, about io-i2in. Trenches were well 
concealed and usually made in pairs. At the top of the 
hill were underground shelters with narrow communica- 
tion trenches. Altogether, the amount of spade work 
seems to have been extraordinary. 

We lunched at Kotsiolki in a farm shed and four 
shrapnel burst unpleasantly close. Two poor devils of the 
Moskovski Regiment were wounded close by, one in the 
groin and one in the leg. Two batteries came into action 
close to us and quickly silenced the enemy's fire. 

Monday, October 26th, 1914. IVANGOROD. 

Rodzianko and I went to visit the XXVth Corps on 
our left. 

We started in a motor soon after 8 a.m. The whole 
way from Ivangorod to Novo Alexandriya, a distance of 
twenty-three versts, the right bank of the Vistula has been 
defended by field works. As we returned after dark, we 
could see that this line is also guarded by outposts, though 
the enemy has been driven some distance back from the 
left bank. 

We found the staff of the XXVth Corps in Prince 
Czartoriski's palace at Novo Alexandriya. This was 
confiscated after the rebellion of 1863, and is now used as 
an agricultural college. It is an enormous house, built on 
the plan of Fontainebleau with an avenue several miles 

158 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

General Ragoza, the G.O.C. and his Chief of Staff, 
Colonel Galkin, explained that the XXVth consisting of the 
3rd Grenadier and the 70th (Reserve) Divisions crossed 
on the night of the 22nd-23rd October. They were able 
to gain a footing on the left bank as the enemy was sur- 
prised, but during the first thirty-six hours after crossing 
they were counter-attacked, and were unable to gain 
sufficient ground to deploy. The XlVth Corps crossed by 
the same bridge on the night of October 23rd-24th. On 
the 25th progress was facilitated by the fire of fortress 
artillery and heavy field artillery from the right bank and 
by the progress of the ist Division of the Guard on the 
right of the corps. There were continual hand-to-hand 
combats, and the Austrians suffered enormously. The 
two corps have taken 5,000 prisoners in four days. The 
7oth Division worked on the right of the road and de- 
livered a spirited attack across the open. This division 
has lost 2,700 rank and file and forty-seven officers in the 
three days' fighting 23rd-25th. Its G.O.C. on the night 
of the loth went into the trenches and told the men that 
the bridge at Novo Alexandriya in their rear had been 
burned ! He led them personally, and personal leading 
is what the reserve divisions require. As Galakin said, 
they are more " impressionable " than the active 

The XXVth Corps had occupied the line Filipinov- 
Vulka Zamoiska by nightfall to-day. The XlVth Corps 
was on their left and rear, towards the Vistula. The ist 
and 2nd Divisions of the Guard between them have 
occupied the wood south of Berdzeja. The Guard Rifle 
Brigade has occupied Polichna, and is moving south on 
Zvolen, preceded by Mannerheim's Guard Cavalry Brigade. 

The I3th Cavalry and the ist Don Cossack Divisions 
crossed last night near Yanovets, and will move forward 

The moral of all this is that the Austrians are being 
pushed back with loss, it is true, but they are escaping us. 

October -December, 1914 159 

The letting slip of chances like this makes one despair of a 
really decisive success. 

It is reported that the Germans are retiring south- 
west, destroying the Ivangorod-Radom railway and 
sweeping the country of all eatables. This will mean that 
the Russians will require a month or six weeks to advance 
before they can get into touch with the fortified position 
at Chenstokhov-Myekhov-Olkush. 

Engelhardt came in and told me that the Germans 
were opposing Ewarth's advance on the line of the River 
Radonka. He estimates their strength on this front at 
about nine corps. 

Tuesday, October zjth, 1914. ZVOLEN. 

I left Ivangorod at 3 p.m. and drove with Rodzianko 
via Novo Alexandriya to Zvolen, as the Corps Staff had 
received orders last night to move to that town. The 
order was bold in the circumstances, as the XXVth Corps 
was eight versts east of Zvolen at nightfall yesterday, and 
our nearest troops were about the same distance to the 
north and north-east. 

However, the Austrians evacuated Zvolen at 5 a.m. 
to-day and their rearguard was attacked a couple of 
hours later by the Lancers of the Guard, young Pan- 
chulidzev being wounded. The General went by train to 
Garbatka and rode from there with some of his staff. 

The place is infected with typhoid. The church is full 
of Austrian wounded nearly all Magyars, who cannot 
speak much German. I found a hospital assistant who 
looked blank when I tried him in succession in German, 
French and Russian, but who spoke English, as he had been 
in America. He said he hated war, for he got hit and 
hit no one back ! These poor people have been without 
anything to eat for two to three days ; the smell in the 
church is dreadful. The poor devils were no doubt quite 
healthy three months ago. Now they have been torn 
from their homes and dragged to a foreign country, made 

160 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 


to stand up before the enemy's bullets, and finally left by 
their own people, mutilated, to die of starvation. This is 
war ! 

Rodzianko went round, like the good fellow he is, 
giving all of them cigarettes and chocolate. When his 
servants came, they at once said that they would give all 
the bread they had, as they might get some more to- 
morrow. Good fellows ! This is all an ordinary incident 
of war and no one is to blame. It is no one's business to 
dress these men's wounds to-night, so they must wait. 

The corps of the 4th Army lie as follows from north to 
south on the left bank of the Vistula : Grenadiers, XVIth, 
XVIIth and Illrd Caucasian Corps. 

The XVIIIth Corps of the gth Army is crossing with 
slight opposition at Solets and another point further south. 

The Germans, who are being continually forced back 
by the 2nd Army, are reported to be concentrating on the 
line Radom-Petrokov. Their heavy guns are moving 
towards Radom, which town is strongly fortified. 

The Illrd Caucasian Corps is opposed by the XI th 
Austrian Corps, the Guard and the XXVth and XlVth by 
the 1st and Vlth Corps. Some regiments from Bosnia are 
offering slight opposition to the progress of the XVIIIth 

The latest idea of the Staff of the gth Army seems to be 
that we are opposed on the line Warsaw-Novo Alexandriya 
by seven German and three Austrian corps. 

Another report describes great preparations at Chen- 
stokhov, and it is expected that the enemy will retreat to 
that line before offering serious battle. 

Wednesday, October zSth, 1914. ZVOLEN. 

We put up at the priest's house. Slept comfortably in 
a room with Rodzianko, the window actually open. Some 
Red Cross doctors were in the room on one side, and on the 
other Lovchin, Grabbe and Greighton. 

We had a stand-up breakfast in the mess kitchen and 

October-December, 1914 161 

then rode out to visit the Staff of the ist Division of the 
Guard, south-west of Zvolen. General Olukhov spoke 
with enthusiasm of the work of the Semenovski and 
Preobrajenski Regiments in the fighting of the past few 
days. One youth, Vansovich, who has just joined the 
Preobrajenski, took two officers and forty-six men prisoners 
with a detachment of six men. He had been sent to find 
out if a village was occupied, and first of all met twenty 
Austrians, whom he charged and forced to surrender. He 
kept these twenty men quiet with his revolver, while his 
six men searched the village and brought out two officers 
and twenty-six more men. He is the brother of the 
Vansovich in the same regiment who was killed near 

The story and the state of the wounded found at 
Zvolen proves the disorganisation of the Austrian Army. 
Rodzianko entered a hut last night where two severely 
wounded men implored to be carried out, as they had been 
four days shut up there with the corpses of two comrades, 
without food and unable to stir themselves. 

While we were at the headquarters of the division, a 
report came in that the body of a drummer of the Preobra- 
jenskis had been mutilated on the preceding night. We 
rode to the village where this occurred and arrived just in 
time for the burial service, which was being held in a fir- 
wood near at hand. The man's company, 220 strong, was 
drawn up, forming a square round the priest, who intoned 
the service before the open grave. The company, the 
Emperor's, was of picked men, all over six feet in 
height. The doctor and the company officers explained 
that the drummer had been sent with a message to a 
neighbouring piquet in the outpost line on the preceding 
night. He had lost his way and stumbled on to the enemy's 
trenches. He had been shot through the spine and 
probably killed at once. The Austrians had then riddled his 
body with bullets fired at such close range as to singe the 
flesh, and they had slashed his body with their bayonets. 


162 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

Savage treatment, considering that we tend their wounded 
better than they do themselves ! 

We overtook the Preobrajenskis on the march, and spoke 
to the Commander, Count Ignatiev, Baron Tornau and 

The general line of the 5th Army * is held by the ist 
Siberian, XlXth and Vth Corps. 

The line is continued to the south by the 4th Army 
Grenadiers, XVIth, XVIIth and the Illrd Caucasian Corps. 
The last-named corps bivouacked last night well in 
advance of Zvolen in the angle between the Ivangorod- 
Radom railway and the Zvolen-Radom chaussee. 

The line was continued last night to the left by the 
Rifle Brigade, 2nd and ist Divisions of the Guard. 

The XXVth Corps has cleared the Austrians from the 
north of the river Iljanka. 

The G.O.G. Guard has directed his advanced troops to 
occupy the chausee Radom-Skarishev to-night. The 
XlVth Corps has been directed to assist the crossing of the 
XVIIIth Corps (General Zaionchkovski, 37th and 83rd 
Divisions) . General Kruzenstern has taken over command 
of three divisions on the San and has been told to occupy 
Sandomir. His three divisions are the 23rd (lately in 
XVIIIth Corps), 8oth and 46th. 

We hear (8 p.m.) that Radom has been occupied by the 
Cossacks. Everything points to the rapid retreat of the 
Germans to Kalish-Chenstokhov-Bendin. It will take us 
three weeks to reach this line, perhaps a little more or a 
little less, according to the state of the weather and its 
effect on the roads and to the amount of damage the 
Germans have done to the railways. The question is, 
what will the Germans do in this time. It is too much to 
hope that their seven corps will require so long to recoup 
and to reorganise. The danger is that they will use 
their communications once more to hurl their seven corps 

1 See Map No. V. 

October-December, 1914 163 

in the spot least convenient for us Belgium or East 

The Germans are said to have strongly fortified the 
frontier of East Prussia in order to render a Russian 
invasion impossible. 

It is rumoured to-night that we have lost touch with 
the enemy. If this is true it is unpardonable, with our 
huge force of cavalry. 

Thursday, October 2<)th t 1914. SKARISHEV. 

Engelhardt, who was starting this morning to carry 
dispatches to the Grand Duke, gave me a list of the 
General Staff officers with the Guard Corps. 

The division of duties on a corps staff depends very 
much on the personal ideas of the member of the staff 
with the strongest character. In the Staff of the Guard 
this officer is Colonel Domanevski, who is not happy unless 
working twenty-two hours a day. The Chief of Staff, 
Count Nostitz, who is supposed to direct everything, leaves 
things to Domanevski. He nurses a gouty leg and reads 
Francois Coppee while guns are booming. He is always 
to be found while Domanevski is dictating orders, quite 
absorbed in letters to his wife, an American. 

Under the general supervision of the Chief of Staff 
the General Staff includes a colonel, three captains and two 
attached officers. Their work is allotted as follows : 

Colonel of General Staff : General supervision of 
work in General Staff Colonel Domanevski. 

Captain of General Staff : ist Assistant to Colonel 
Domanevski ; supposed to write orders and 
attend generally to operations, but this is really 
done by Colonel Domanevski. 

Captain of General Staff : Intelligence. Captain 
Engelhardt. Retired from army six years ago 
and has since taken a prominent interest in 
military matters in the Duma. The most 
capable man on the Staff. 

164 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

Captain of General Staff : Communications. 
Two officers attached to the General Staff. Special 
service. Really maids-of-all-work. 

It is said that there is only a single officer in excess of 
establishment as far as the General Staff is concerned ; 
but there are a mass of others, perhaps twenty, with no 
defined duties " qui voyagent" as Domanevski says. 
Some of them have their autos, and some their carriages, 
but they are all in the way as much as I am, and they have 
less excuse, for they should be with their regiments. 

We had an interesting visit last night from the priest of 
a village a few versts west of Ivangorod. He was taken 
prisoner by the Germans some eight days ago, together 
with fifty men, women and children of the neighbourhood, 
and carried to Radom. The rest were sent to Germany, 
he had heard, " to assist in gathering the crops, and to 
work in the factories/' He was released on Monday. He 
says the Germans left Radom on Friday, the 23rd, by train. 
They acknowledged to a loss of 50,000, and maintained 
that the Russian gun-fire was so accurate that it could 
only be directed by Japanese. The Austrians evacuated 
Radom on Monday night, the 26th. The Austrian 
organisation is pitiable and the men have nothing to eat. 
The Germans eat enough for five men each. The latter have 
systematically robbed the country, sending corn and 
potatoes by train to Germany. The people loathe them. 
I am bound to say that we saw no trace of their exactions 
when we drove through Radom to-day. 

General Bezobrazov thinks that fourteen corps will be 
directed towards Krakau, and a screen of ten will be 
placed towards Thorn to cover Warsaw, etc. 

We have no divisional cavalry in the Guard Corps. 
The General insists on maintaining Mannerheim's In- 
dependent Guard Cavalry Brigade intact. It is true that 
this particular brigade is of too good cavalry to split up 
between infantry divisions, but he could easily apply for 

October -December, 1914 165 

Cossacks. It is really disgraceful that we have lost touch 
again. The men were crying aloud for cavalry when they 
got the Austrians on the run, but there was none forth- 

The order to-night shows that we are moving south 
the left of the Guard Corps through Ilja. The idea seems 
to be to make the Austrians evacuate Sandomir without a 
fight. Presumably we will then turn right and go along 
the left bank of the Vistula. There is an unconfirmed 
report that the Xlth and XXth German Corps retired 
through Radom on Kyeltsi on the 27th and 28th. We 
have to do on our left and front with the remnants of the 
1st, Vth and Xth Austrian Corps. 

Friday, October 30^, 1914. ILJA. 

My forty-fourth birthday, and a bitterly cold day. 
Rode with Rodzianko after the twelve o'clock dinner to 
Ilja, sixteen versts, where we spend the night. Ilja is a 
prettily situated place, with an old ruined castle, said to 
date from 1004 A.D. We put up at the priest's. 

Radko Dimitriev is slightly west of the San. Kruzen- 
stern is trying to cross the Vistula below Sandomir. The 
gth Army is moving south-west by south, the Guard on 
the right. 

The general idea is to pursue the 1st, Vth and Xth 
Austrian Corps and to facilitate Radko's advance west, 
up the right bank. The 4th Army is on our right, its 
Staff advancing along the line of the Radom-Kyeltsi 
railway. It is thought possible that the Germans may 
make a diversion on our right to save the Austrians. My 
idea is that the Austrians will escape. If there is any 
fight it will be to-morrow. We had good news to-day. 
The Germans are fairly running from Poland. Lodz 
has been reoccupied. 

In the three and a half days' fighting west of Ivangorod 
last week the 2nd Artillery Brigade of the Guard used 
13,000 rounds, i.e., an average of over 270 rounds per gun. 

166 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

A good deal of the delay on the 27th arose from a 
misunderstanding. General Irman (Illrd Caucasian 
Corps) maintained that Polichna was already occupied 
by our people, and so the Guard artillery did not fire on it. 
However, the chief fruit of the victory was lost through 
the timid handling of the cavalry. Even to-day the 
Guard Brigade, the I3th Division and the ist Don Cossack 
Division seem to be doing nothing. 

One hears stories of the conduct of the Germans. An 
escaped ensign says that officer prisoners at Radom were 
made to work with the men, dragging heavy guns. The 
priest at Skarishev says that officer prisoners were stripped 
to the waist and paraded on horseback round the village 

The priest at Ilja said he was delighted to see us the 
only pity was that we had not come earlier. The Germans 
and Austrians had been four weeks less one day with them, 
and had robbed everyone. When they arrived they 
ordered food. He put up a General and two other 
officers for two days and fed them. When going, the 
General said : " What shall I pay you for the food ? Well, 
here are twenty marks ! " They paid for cattle, etc., by 
receipts, which they perfectly well knew were of no value 
whatsoever. They proclaimed the rate of exchange at 
Mark i = R.i'4o. (Pre-war rate was Mark i = R. 50.) 

Saturday, October ^ist, 1914. WARSAW. 

The uxorious Rodzianko was off to Warsaw this morning 
ostensibly to get three motor-cars repaired really to see 
his wife so I went with him to get my dispatch through 
to Petrograd. We could not start till 2 p.m. as the cars 
had to convey the staff in relays to the next halt at 
Virjbnik (for some reason many officers have a strong objec- 
tion to riding). We ran through Skarishev to Radom, 
where we fed ; then on the ninety-five versts to Warsaw, 
over a good road, arriving at 8 p.m. 

There was a strong wind and snowstorm, but we had a 

October-December, 1914 167 

closed car. It was a shock to see a large body of artillery 
moving north, thirty miles out of Warsaw. We asked an 
officer where they were going, and he said, " Turkey." 
This gave me furiously to think, but Rodzianko would 
think of nothing except the chance of seeing his wife, 
cursing the chauffeur every now and then for going too 
slowly. At Warsaw we heard that the Goeben had had the 
impertinence to bombard Novorossisk and had sunk a ship 
of the Black Sea fleet. However, a naval officer tells us 
that three ships of the Black Sea fleet united have a heavier 
broadside than the Goeben, only the latter steams twenty- 
eight knots and they only seventeen. No one knows 
whether Turkey has declared war on Russia. There is an 
impression that the German crew of the Goeben simply 
acted on their own initiative, for the Turkish Ambassador 
at Petrograd has only just renewed the lease of his house 
for a year. 

Laguiche and Hanbury-Williams are here on a visit 
from G.H.Q., and young Neilson only left to-day to rejoin 

I had a long talk with Laguiche, who really knows things. 

He tells me that trace has been lost of the German corps 
that took part in the recent offensive against Warsaw. 

The Austrians are thought to have still sixteen regular 
and five reserve corps in the field, but they are mere 
skeletons. The Russians have taken 1,000 guns and over 
200,000 prisoners. Are the Austrians beaten ? If we 
succeed in driving a wedge into South Silesia, where the 
Polish part of the population is prepared to welcome us, 
the Austrian army will have to decide whether it will 
defend Berlin or Vienna. What will be the attitude of the 
Czechs ? 

The loth Army (Sievers) 1 is now being fiercely at- 
tacked in the neighbourhood of Suvalki, the Germans 
having brought up heavy guns from Konigsberg, and, it 

1 See Map No. V. 

168 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

is said, from Posen. The 1st Army (Rennenkampf) is to 
advance to the frontier beyond Mlava. The role of these 
two armies, as of the 8th (Brusilov) on the extreme Russian 
left,is to be one of active defence,f or the present at all events. 

Meanwhile the 4th Army (Ewarth), the gth Army 
(Lechitski) and the 3rd Army (Radko Dimitriev) of the 
South-West Front will advance to the south-west, and the 
2nd Army (Scheidemann) and the 5th Army (Plehve) will 
be allotted the task of turning the enemy's left. 

The problem we have to solve is chiefly one of com- 
munications and supply. Everything goes to show that 
the Russians in pressing back the Austrians from the 
Government of Lyublin marched beyond the effective 
radius of their supply columns. The result was that 
horses died in harness, and only the extraordinary 
endurance of the men and the disorganisation of the 
Austrians and their consequent inability to counter-attack 
saved the Russian army from disintegration. No less than 
1,500 horses were sent to a single corps. The men had to 
drag the guns for several days. There is a shortage of 
rifles, but many are being obtained from Japan. 

Our position in South-West Poland will improve when 
Przemysl and Krakau are taken, as this will make the 
Lemberg-Krakau railway available. Till then the 4th, 
9th and 3rd Armies will have to depend for supply on the 
two double lines, Warsaw-Ghenstokhov (European gauge), 
and Radom-Kyeltsi (Russian gauge), and the Vistula. The 
railways have been thoroughly destroyed by the Germans 
and will require three weeks to repair. The Vistula above 
Sandomir is a poor line of supply, and the Russians have 
insufficient steamers. The first task will be to feed the 
troops to enable them to advance sufficiently rapidly, and 
then to provide supply depots in the neighbourhood of the 
frontier to make possible the subsequent advance to 
Breslau and further north-west. 

Miss D tells me that the Poles have been treated 

October -December, 1914 169 

in the most disgraceful manner. German officers who had 
been entertained for days stole cushions, bedding, etc., 
when leaving. Others committed wanton damage, slash- 
ing pictures and furniture. 

A landowner near Grodzisk, south-west of Warsaw, 
entertained German officers for a week. When they 
retired one officer remained behind, and was captured by 
the farm hands setting alight his host's haystacks. When 
he was brought before the " master," the latter stood him 
against a wall and spat in his face, and then handed him 
over to the farm hands to do what they liked with him. 

Madame - says that Prince Eitel Friedrich was at 
the Hotel de Rome at Radom during recent operations. 
Her sister-in-law was left alone by her husband in a house 
near Radom, and had German officers with her for five 
nights. They tried to " make love to her," and she is 
nearly off her head. The Austrian Commander-in-Ghief 
stayed with her other brother-in-law near Zamostie during 
the operations in the Government of Lyublin, and when 
the enemy retired they took him with them, as they said 
he " had seen and knew too much." 

Thursday, November tyh, 1914. WARSAW. 

The railway is said to be open to Radom and to sixty 
versts beyond Skernevitsi. Kyeltsi has been occupied, 
but the repair of the line from Radom to Kyeltsi is ex- 
pected to take three weeks. The Guard Corps was in 
action yesterday south-east of Kyeltsi, so we will run in 
that direction to-morrow. Austrian rearguards are trying 
to cover the enemy retirement. 

We have retaken Sandomir, but Radko-Dimitriev is 
making very little progress further south. 

We have occupied Mlava, and our patrols are well to 
the north. Warsaw rumours state that the Germans are 
concentrating north of Mlava, so we may hear something 
in a day or two. Sievers, with the loth Army, is entering 
East Prussia west of Suvalki. 

170 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

The Russians are throwing up elaborate defences to 
cover Warsaw a useful precaution. 

Laguiche tells me that the official Russian opinion is 
that only three and a half to four German corps took part 
in the movement against Warsaw, and that there are only 
one and a half German corps in East Prussia ! 

Saturday, November yth, 1914. PJNCHOV. 

I left Warsaw by car at 3 p.m. yesterday, slept at 
Radom and arrived at Pinchov (Guard Corps) at 7 p.m. 
to-day. Engelhardt made an interesting companion. 

He tells me that Rennenkampf is of opinion that the 
old system of reserve troops with cadres already formed 
and existing in peace is better than the present system, 
under which the reserve units are only formed on mobilisa- 
tion on cadres then detailed from regular units. Engel- 
hardt prefers the present system, but thinks the cadres 
should be stronger, and that the whole level and quality 
of training of the officers of reserve should be raised to the 
equal of what it is in Germany. The difficulty in Russia 
unfortunately is that there is no patriotic middle class as 
in other countries. 

All the hotels at Radom were full, but we had the luck 
to stumble on a comfortable and clean private flat, where 
we slept in luxury. The owner, a Polish doctor, had 
remained in the town throughout the enemy occupation. 
A high German official had been billeted on him, but " his 
attitude was most correct, and he insisted on paying for 
the use of the flat." He said that the Allies were re- 
treating because their losses had been " colossal " 
greater than any figure the doctor could possibly imagine. 

Between Radom and Pinchov the railway has been 
thoroughly destroyed. All the water-supply arrange- 
ments, all the points, besides every bridge and long 
stretches of embankment, have been destroyed by ex- 
plosives placed at a few yards interval. Trains now run 
to Radom, and optimists promise the opening of the line 

October -December, 1914 171 

to Kyeltsi by the I2th, but this seems very doubtful. 
The road bridges have also been destroyed, and we had to 
drag the car out of mud several times. 
A glorious, sunny, frosty day. 

Sunday, November 8th, 1914. PINCHOV. 

The Staff of the Guard Corps occupies here a house 
which the Marquis of Vilapolski had handed over for use 
as a school. We remain here to-day to allow the Illrd 
Caucasian Corps to clear our front. It was imagined that 
the Nida was strongly fortified, and the Illrd Caucasian 
Corps was accordingly despatched south with the idea of 
turning the Austrian left. 

On the left of the Guard the XXVth Corps will send its 
two divisions, the 75th and the 3rd Grenadier, across the 
Nida to-night. Further south, and near the Vistula, is 
the XlVth Corps, with the 45th and i8th Divisions and the 
2nd Rifle Brigade. In rear of the XlVth Corps is the 
XVIIIth, with two divisions, the 83rd and 37th, on the 
left bank of the Vistula. Of Kruzenstern's three 
divisions on the right bank the 23rd has reached the 
Wistoka and the 46th and 8oth are echeloned about a 
march and two marches in rear. Kruzenstern's advance 
has caused the Austrians opposed to Radko-Dimitriev to 

It is said that Brusilov's position was at one time 
difficult, and it was thought that he would have to retire 
from Galicia, abandoning Lemberg. He, however, counter- 
attacked one of the columns sent against him, and our 
extreme left is now considered out of danger. 

The General told me to-day that he had hung three 
Jews for attacking a Cossack. The Jews here are in 
consequence very polite ! 

We received orders to-night to advance two marches 
and to take up a position just out of range of the guns of 
Krakau. The XXVth and XlVth Corps will line up on 
our left. 

172 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 1 

Monday, November qth, 1914, DZYALOSHITSE. 

Though this place is only twenty versts from Pinchov, 
my luggage only arrived at 10 p.m., having been twelve 
hours on the road. There seems to have been some 
confusion in the orders, for the road was a fair one. 

It is thought that we will be in a position to move on 
as soon as the railway is repaired as far as Kyeltsi. It 
depends what is meant by ' moving on." If we are to 
make a serious invasion of German territory we should not 
only have the railway right up to our rear units, but 
should accumulate supply magazines, for the Germans 
will lay waste the country as they retire. 

Tuesday, November loth, 1914. MARKHOTSITSE 

We rode the twelve versts here from Dzyaloshitse this 
afternoon. The large staff of the corps 100 officers and 
officials is very crowded in the village. I am in a room 
of the schoolhouse with Lovchin and Grabbe. The Duke 
of Mecklenburg, General Potocki, the Inspector of Ar- 
tillery, and others are in the next room. The corps may 
have to halt here for ten days to await the arrival of the 
3rd Army. We were more comfortable at the last place, 
but the General objected to the Jews. 

We heard from prisoners last night that all the Germans 
have gone north-west from Krakau, and have been 
followed by the Austrian active troops. It is said that 
there is a panic in Krakau and the inhabitants have been 
ordered to leave. The place is provisioned for three mont 

The XVIIIth Corps is to cross the Vistula to hel 
Kruzenstern. The Austrians have abandoned the line of 
the Wistoka. 


Wednesday, November nth, 1914. MARKHOTSITSE. 

The enemy has occupied certain points a few versts 

outside his line of forts, and has sent out a brigade to 

occupy some high ground inside our border and north-east 

of Krakau. 

October -December, 1914 173 

A field of fire has been cleared in front of the forts, and 
it is reported that large areas have been mined. There are 
German 420. guns. 

The Independent Guard Cavalry Brigade and the ist 
Don Cossack Cavalry Division are now resting east of 
Myekhov, having each sent a squadron to carry out 
reconnaissance in advance of the infantry of the Guard and 
the XXVth Corps. 

Agents report that the enemy is preparing to evacuate 
Chenstokhov. He is sending back sick, wounded and 
heavy guns. Everything now points to the concentration 
of the Allies in the area Bendin-Olkush. 

The Staff of the South- West Front moved forward from 
Kholm to Radom on Saturday the 7th. The Staff of the 
4th Army arrived at Kyeltsi on the 6th, and of the gth 
Army at Busk from Ostrovets on the 8th. 

The railway to Kyeltsi will not be repaired till between 
the i8th and 2ist. 

Thursday, November I2th, 1914. MARKHOTSITSE. 

I rode out with the General to see the right flank of the 
position which we are taking up to await the arrival in 
line of the 3rd Army now three marches in rear. The 
weather was awful when we started, soon after 7 a.m. 
rain and a wind that cut one in two. I am helpless and 
hopeless in such weather. The Russians have a great 
advantage in their insensibility to cold. 

The men were everywhere busy trenching and cutting 
down trees for overhead cover, the whole under the 
superintendence of the officers of the engineer companies 
who had selected the sites for the trenches. The whole 
line will be seventeen versts, and it will be occupied by the 
2nd and ist Division of the Guard. 

The cavalry and mounted scouts report that the enemy 
yesterday evacuated the advanced line he had taken up 
on our territory, and retired towards the line of forts. 

Instructions have been received that Radko-Dimitriev 

174 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

will on arrival take charge of the blockade of Krakau, and 
the 2nd, 5th, 4th and gth Armies will move on to the west. 

Friday, November i^th, 1914. MARKHOTSITSE. 

The 5th and 4th Armies face due west. The 9th Army 
will face south-west till relieved by the 3rd Army, when it 
will wheel to a position facing west. 

The 4th Army, on our right, passes from the South- 
West Front to the North- West Front at midnight to-night. 
The 2nd, 5th and 4th Armies are ordered to take the 
offensive to-morrow to " prevent the initiative from 
passing into the hands of the enemy." Our task in the 
9th Army is to support in every way possible the 4th 
Army, by covering its left flank pending the arrival of 
Radko-Dimitriev, who is now halfway between the San 
and Wistoka. 

Saturday, November i^th, 1914. MYEKHOV. 

We left Markhotsitse at 12 noon and I rode the ten 
versts to Myekhov. There is no sign of fortification 
here, so the reports to that effect were quite untrue. The 
Guard Staff occupies the southern part of the town to- 
night and the Staff of the XlVth Corps the northern area. 
The Guard Rifle Brigade, which is in reserve to our corps, 
is also here. 

The Austrians evacuated Myekhov exactly a week 
ago. Our landlord tells me that the Germans when here 
had no less than 2,000 motors, of which 300 were repaired 
in a garage in a single day. They turned on all the local 
inhabitants to repair the roads. I wish we would do the 
same, but it seems to be nobody's business. 

The railway has been repaired to Skorjisk, half-way 
between Radom and Kyeltsi. The first train was expected 
to reach Ostrovets to-day. 

The shortage of ammunition, both gun and rifle, is 
causing anxiety. General Potocki, the Inspector of 
Artillery of the corps, tells me that we have ammunition 

October -December, 1914 175 

for seven days' normal expenditure. He calculates fifty 
rounds per gun per day as ' normal." The average per 
diem per gun in the 2nd Guard Brigade in the four days' 
fighting at Ivangorod was ^ or sixty-seven rounds, 
and this was greater than in any four days' fighting in 
September in the Government of Lyublin ; but on one 
occasion a brigade of artillery of the Grenadier Corps fired 
4,000 rounds in one day, or eighty-three rounds per gun. 

" Local parks " are mobilised at the fortresses so 
many for each army, often one for each corps. One local 
park is at Ostrovets, where it is fed from Annopol and the 
Vistula. Ammunition has to be carried by road the whole 
way from Ostrovets. The parks will be transferred when 
the Radom-Kyeltsi-Olkush railway has been repaired. 

The 3rd Army is still considerably in rear. It ap- 
parently consists of the XXIst, Xlth, IXth and Xth Corps, 
with one division of the Vllth Corps, while the 8th consists 
of the Xllth, VHIth, XXIVth and Vllth. 

The Austrians retreating from before these armies are 
throwing away transport, ammunition wagons, etc. 

The 4th Army will continue its offensive to-morrow. 
The right of the gth Army, viz., the XlVth Corps and the 
ist Brigade, 2nd Guard Infantry Division, will assist, 
while the remainder of the Guard and the XXVth Corps 
stand fast. 

I saw some of the infantry of the 45th Division (now 
with the XlVth Corps) coming through Myekhov to-day, 
and they impressed me unfavourably. They seemed tired 
and spiritless, and their expression was monotonous in its 
hopeless depression. Not a smile anywhere, and many of 
the men looked ill. I am told they do not get enough 
' kasha," or bread. I hope no epidemic will break out, 
for these men would die like flies. 

A Frenchman appeared to-night with the story that 
he had been a teacher in Lemberg and had been arrested 
at the commencement of the war. He had consented to 
act as spy for the Austrians in order to escape. He said 

176 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

he had been told to ascertain how far our railways had 
been mended and how many trains a day were running. 
Engelhardt gave him food and lodging. 

Sunday, November i$th, 1914. MYEKHOV. 

After lunch to-day I rode with my orderly ten versts 
to see the destroyed tunnel north of Myekhov. Every 
curved rail has been destroyed, but only some forty yards 
of straight rail on either side of the tunnel. The tunnel 
was destroyed on Tuesday 3rd, but no one has com- 
menced clearing away the rubbish yet, although this cannot 
be considered skilled labour. 

I had some conversation with Ushakov, the officer in 
charge of the administrative service in the Guard Corps, 
regarding the system of replacing casualties. 

The arrangement at the commencement of the campaign 
was that each regiment formed a depot battalion 2,000 
strong at its peace station. The depot battalions of a 
corps formed a depot brigade, 16,000 strong. The Guard 
Corps had ten battalions for its three divisions. Rifle 
brigades formed two depot battalions each. The Guard 
depot battalions took longer to form, as it was thought 
desirable to enlist only ex-Guardsmen. At the commence- 
ment of the Lyublin operations drafts of 2,000 men were 
telegraphed for from the depot brigade (September 9th). 
They did not arrive till September 25th, and before their 
arrival 8,000 had been telegraphed for. These could not 
be sent for a considerable time, owing to the whole of the 
men available in the battalions being required for the 3rd 
Guard Division, which lost heavily in the Samsonov 
disaster. Up to date, the Guard has received altogether 
9,000 men and it is now 5,000 under strength. I asked 
why, and was told that it was preferred to have no men 
rather than men half trained, and that the shortage of 
officers in the corps made it impossible to have the full 
strength. For Instance, the Moskovski Regiment lost 

October -December, 1914 177 

fifty officers out of its establishment of seventy-eight in 
the operations south of Lyublin. The Guard regiments 
have so far refused to promote ensigns, as men so pro- 
moted might remain with them after the war ! 

All corps are short of establishment. 

Of course the controlling factor in the strength of the 
army at present is the number of officers. Apart from 
the shortening of the course of instruction at military 
schools, which has already provided an additional con- 
tingent of 3,000 officers, line regiments have been author- 
ised to promote their eighteen ensigns and all their short- 
time volunteers, who average in number about twenty-one 
per regiment. Again, all students who had been permitted 
to postpone their military service on account of educational 
reasons have been ordered to go through a course of four 
months' instruction and on its conclusion to join as officers ; 
this arrangement will provide an additional 15,000 young 
officers by February I4th. 

The 2nd Army has been ordered to move against the 
line Kalish-Velyun, and the 5th and 4th Armies against 
the German group near Chenstokhov. The gih Army is 
to cover the left flank from enemy attempts from the 
direction of Krakau. 

The Guard moves on, leaving the XXVth Corps to 
organise the blockade of Krakau, for which the following 
divisions have been detailed : 6ist (XVII), 7oth (XXV), 
8oth and Sard (XVIII). 

The XVIIIth Corps (23rd and 37th Divisions) will move 

The railway is actually opened to Kyeltsi, which 
becomes railhead. During the past ten days the Qth 
Army, with the exception of the Guard Corps, has been 
provisioned from Annopol on the Vistula by horse trans- 
port over 120 miles of road. The Guard had permission 
to draw its supplies from the magazines at Warsaw, and 
arranged for trains to be delivered at railhead on the 


178 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

Radom-Kyeltsi line, but transport thence has been by 
country cart. 

Tuesday, November ijth, 1914. STSIBORJITSE. 

I could not induce Rodzianko to start from Myekhov 
till nearly 10. While he had been in Warsaw his orderlies 
had allowed his horses to fight, so that the best is now laid 
up with swollen legs and the other is in for several weeks' 
sore back. He rode his orderly's horse, which soon 
proved to be dead lame. It had frozen hard the night 
before and was slippery, so we had to stop to get " shipi" 
screwed into our horses' feet by the smith of a transport 
column we passed. It was so bitterly cold that walking 
was pleasanter than riding. We are to spend the night 
here in a huge block of a house belonging to an Austrian 
Pole, who left the place in July. The Cossacks have 
ransacked one room. I wandered into the fine library 
and took down a volume of Byron, but found it was 
a German translation, and that discouraged further 

Slight firing was audible from Skala and heavy firing 
from Yangrot, so we rode, still at a walk, west, in the 
latter direction. 

W r e went forward to the O.P. of one of the batteries 
from which we could see the firing-line. The enemy was 
holding Yangrot in trenches, and our men, some 400 yards 
nearer us, were in occupation of a captured trench. They 
were being reinforced from the support by some hundred 
men moving up at a walk. The attack was supported by 
two batteries in a covered position on the right and one 
battery on the left, firing at about 1,800 yards. Just 
before dark our infantry ran forward and carried the 

The guns were well dug in and shelter-holes had been 
prepared for both officers and men to pass the night, 
These had been lined with straw from the neighbouring 
village, but all the same it must have been cold work 

October -December, 1914 179 

without blankets and with several degrees of frost. Very 
little gun ammunition was used, which is as well, for I 
don't know where our parks are. 

Little Gershelman, one of the General's orderly officers, 
who takes an interest in the operations, came to my room 
and gave me the general situation in outline. 

The loth Army has advanced some miles into East 
Prussia and occupies the line Stalluponen-Goldap-Lyck. 

The Germans have pushed forward a newly-formed 
XXVth Corps to the neighbourhood of Vlotslavsk. 

They have one corps at Kalish, the VI th Landwehr, 
and the Xlth near Velyun, the XXth, Guard Reserve and 
the Ilnd Landwehr near Ghenstokhov. The XVIIth and 
Xllth have not yet been located, but probably the corps 
at Kalish is one of these. 

The general German movement appears to be towards 
the north. It may be intended to base a mobile column 
on Thorn to operate against the right flank of our line of 
communications in the event of our penetrating into 
Germany. 1 

The Guard took prisoners to-day from three Austrian 
corps, the 1st, Vth and Xth. The Ilnd Austrian Corps is 
opposite the XI Vth Corps, now on our right. The Aus- 
trian XlVth and Vlth Corps are reported to be at Krakau. 

Radko-Dimitriev has reached a line halfway between 
the Wist oka and the Dunajec. On arrival his army will 
invest Krakau from the south-east and south, while the 
XXVth Corps blockades it from the north. 

Wednesday, November iSth, 1914. STSIBORJITSE. 

A " soft " day. I had a touch of lumbago, so gave my 
horses a rest. My groom has gone sick, but I got another 
who seems better value. 

While we were at lunch a report came in that the enemy 
is holding a strongly fortified position covered by barbed 

1 The German offensive from Thorn had actually commenced on November 
nth six days earlier 1 

i8o With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

wire north-east of Mikhalovka. The G.O.O. 2nd Division 
asked for heavy guns, as otherwise the position could only 
be captured with great loss. 

The Chief Veterinary Officer, who is proud of his 
German, was to-day driving into an unfortunate Austrian 
prisoner the misfortunes of his country. He said : ' Do 
you know that there is not a single Austrian soldier in 
Serbia ? The Serbs have taken Semlin and the Mon- 
tenegrins have invaded Bosnia." The ragged individual 
replied : " Tempora mutantur." He was a student ! 

Thursday, November iQth, 1914. STSIBORJITSE. 

The 2nd Division has not been able to occupy Mik- 
halovka. The left of the 45th Division on its right, which 
has not received its drafts and is probably 9,000 strong 
instead of 14,000, has been forced to retire from the wood 
north of Yangrot, and the enemy is evidently trying to 
turn our right by pushing a column through this wood. 

Our situation is not brilliant. It has been established 
from the questioning of prisoners that the Guard Corps has 
in its immediate front five divisions of the Vth and Xth 
Austrian Corps. The enemy is attacking all along the 
line and we cover a front of twenty-five versts. In the ist 
Division the Semenovski and Yegerski Regiments have been 
hard pressed, but have held their own, and have even 
gained some ground. 

The Corps Staff received bad news at i a.m. on the 
i8th. It appears that two corps have been forced to retire 
before a German offensive from the line Vreshen-Thorn. 
It was expected for some time that the 9th Army would be 
ordered to retire, but other councils have apparently 
prevailed. The 2nd and 5th Armies have been ordered 
to form front to the north to deal with the German offen- 
sive, and the 4th Army has been once more returned to the 
South-West Front. It and the 9th Army have been 
ordered to attack the Austrians in their immediate front 
to prevent further enemy transfers to the north. Much 

October-December, 1914 181 

depends on the strength of the German offensive. There 
are signs that the Guard Reserve and the Ilnd Landwehr 
Corps have been relieved by Austrian troops. Still, if the 
Russians play their cards well, even seven enemy corps 
should have a bad time between the Vistula, Novo 
Georgievsk, and the ist, 2nd and 5th Armies. 

There is general anxiety regarding the shortage of 
ammunition. This is especially serious in the 2nd Guard 
Division, which has used 2,150,000 rounds of small arms 
ammunition in the fighting of the last three days. The 
Division only had 180 rounds per rifle left this morning. 
We met the regimental ammunition carts returning to 
search for the parks yesterday at 2 p.m. The drivers 
asked us where the parks were and we could not tell them. 
I now learn that they are at Stopnitsa, where they are 
filling from the local parks, and they cannot be here for 
four days, i.e., on the morning of the 24th. As a train 
is said to be unloading ammunition at Skorjisk, Rodzianko 
has gone off with Gershelman to organise its transport by 
motor from Skorjisk to Myekhov and thence by cart. It is 
cruel to think of the men in the trenches on a day like this, 
with the thermometer several degrees below zero, trying 
to hold their own against a superior attacking force, without 
cartridges to shoot the enemy down. We have an over- 
whelming preponderance of guns, but these are of little 
use to us, as shell too is lacking. 

The 37th Division (XVIIIth Gorps) to-day relieved the 
ist Division of the Guard in front line. 

The General tells me that the Germans are advancing 
" in great force " up the left bank of the Vistula. The 
2nd and 5th Armies are carrying out a laborious wheel to 
the north. Meanwhile one would have thought there 
could be little left to oppose the 4th Army, but it too 
only advanced yesterday " with difficulty." Radko Ditni- 
triev arrived yesterday within two marches of the eastern 

182 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

forts of Krakau, but he had only two corps with him, 
having used the others to block passes in the Carpathians. 
It is a mystery to me how Radko is going to cut off Krakau 
from the south and west with only two corps. Of course 
if we can get cartridges to-morrow to enable us really to 
take the offensive, it may change everything. 

Before this offensive was ordered " in order to prevent 
the initiative from passing into the enemy's hands," the 
General Staff strategists should have consulted the ad- 
ministrative services to see whether their plan was prac- 
ticable. It looks to me as if the Russian strategical counter 
attack was about to end in a fiasco. 

Dolgoruki and I had a bet yesterday about " 1'anee 
12." I said that every foreigner had left Russian soil by 
Christmas Day. Nostitz confirmed my guess. Latter is 
well read and reads widely now when one would think 
that the Chief of Staff of a corps would have enough to do 
to attend to his own work. He was reading a Blue Book on 
the causes of the war yesterday. The dear old General is 
full of anecdotes about Suvorov and Napoleon. 

Friday, November zoth, 1914. STSIBORJITSE. 

A conference of the Chiefs of Staff of divisions and the 
Rifle Brigade with our G.O.G. and the Corps Staff sat last 
night from 9 p.m. till 2 a.m. to decide on the best manner 
of helping the XlVth Corps on our right, and especially the 
45th Division, which has lost 50 per cent, of its strength. 

At ii a.m. to-day General Bezobrazov had a conversa- 
tion with General LechitskL Lechitski asked to be in- 
formed of what steps Bezobrazov was taking to help the 
XlVth Corps in its " critical ' position. Bezobrazov 
replied that he had no reserves ; he acknowledged that the 
position was serious, but was persuaded there would be no 
catastrophe. He ended that what is required is energetic 
action and cartridges. Lechitski said : " Cartridges you 
will have. I wish you success and give you complete 
freedom of action." 

October-December, 1914 183 

When starting at 9.15 I found Engelhardt starting too. 
We rode eleven versts north-west to Poremba Gorna, a 
village four versts south of Volbrom, and which is ap- 
parently the enemy's immediate objective. There had 
been a hard frost and the ground was covered with light 
snow. It was bitterly cold, and we walked a good part of 
the way to keep our feet warm. At Poremba Gorna we 
found Colonel Rozanov, the Commander of the left 
brigade of the 45th Division, in the priest's house on a 
hill with a wide view to the south, west and north- 
west. Rozanov, who speaks English, explained the situa- 
tion. His brigade had been reduced to under 3,000 men, 
as the greater part of its right had been cut off and made 
prisoners on the railway six versts to the west three days 
ago. His men occupied a front of four versts. While we 
were there he had to send his last reserve of 300 men to 
help to meet the main attack along the railway on his 
right. He then telephoned to ask for a battalion of the 
Rifles at Sukha to be sent to form a reserve. He had 
considerable strength in guns two light howitzer batteries 
and two field batteries and was further supported by the 
Guard Heavy Artillery Division from his left. The 
Austrians had only a single battery, apparently. The 
view from the hill was splendid, and we could clearly see the 
Austrian infantry advancing at the run, though the dis- 
tance was four versts. Our howitzers opened upon them 
and soon the whole stretch of ground over which they had 
been advancing was blotched with great black masses 
where the earth thrown up by the explosions covered the 
snow. I doubt if we killed many of them, but we produced 
a useful moral effect, for they stayed quiet in their trenches 
as long as we watched. Rozanov's position was uncom- 
fortable. He had only 150 cartridges per rifle in the morn- 
ing and few shell ; his force of 3,000 tired-out men was 
far too weak to hold four versts of front. Engelhardt sent 
off a report and sketch recommending that a brigade of the 
ist Guard Division should be sent in support. 

184 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

I understand that the rear echelons of our parks went 
to Annopol on the Vistula to fetch ammunition, and when 
they arrived they were told that there was no ammunition 
there and no one had ever heard that there was any 
chance of it being there. Ammunition was picked up on 
their return at Ostrovets, the railway there having been 
opened meanwhile. The parks are now at Stopnitsa. 
Owing to Gershelmann and Rodzianko's expedition yester- 
day, ammunition has been brought from Skorjisk to 
Myekhov by motor-car. The first echelons of our parks 
filled up there to-day and arrived at the front at about 
2 p.m. The other echelons are following. 

Saturday, November 2ist, 1914. STSIBORJITSE. 

A fine, sunny day with a hard frost. Gould get no one 
to come with me, except Dolgoruki, who offered to come 
if I would drive ! Too cold. Rode to Poremba Gorna 
and found the Preobrajenskis about to take over from 
Colonel Rozanov. The enemy had made three separate 
attempts to advance along the railway, but had been 
repulsed by our artillery. Their artillery was much more 
active to-day in shelling our advanced trenches. 

The Austrians are advancing all along the front from 
Volbrom to Sukha, but I fancy their movement is not a 
very serious one. 

The cold in the trenches at night is intense, and some 
of the men have been frostbitten. The Finlandski Regi- 
ment's trenches are at a distance of sixty yards from those 
of the Austrians at Yangrot. 

Points about this winter warfare are : 

It is practically impossible to entrench. Hence 
advantage of the side which happens to occupy entrench- 
ments when the frost comes and disinclination of both 
sides to attack. All country roads become passable, thus 
facilitating the problem of supply for the Russians. On 
the other hand, the wounded suffer from the cold and from 

October-December, 1914 185 

the jolting on the rough roads. Strategical aerial recon- 
naissance is impossible. Owing, to the intense cold, an 
airman can only cover about twenty-five versts at a stretch. 

Coming away from Poremba Gorna to-night I met a 
long line of ambulance cars arriving to carry off the 
seriously wounded men in the brigade of the 45th Division. 

Sunday, November 22nd, 1914. STSIBORJITSE. 

Another bright morning, but colder (6 of frost Reau- 
mur). Gun-fire went on all night, but there is said to be 
no change in the general position this morning. 

The ist Guard Division relieved the left brigade of the 
45th Division yesterday, and to-day at daybreak relieved 
the right brigade of the same division north of the railway 
and west of Volbrom. 

The following points regarding the general situation are 
gleaned from a summary sent yesterday by the staff, gth 
Army. The Germans are advancing in two groups : the 
first on Lodz and the second on Lovich. On the two lines 
they have from right to left, covered in front by five cavalry 
divisions : the IXth, Xlth, XVIIth, XXth and XXVth 
(Reserve) Corps. 

The Germans the Guard Reserve and Landwehr 
Corps and the Breslau garrison in the neighbourhood of 
Velyun and Ghenstokhov, will move north as soon as 
relieved by Austrians. 

The Staff of the Qth Army flatters itself that it was its 
rapid advance that forced the 4th Austrian Army (originally 
designed for Chenstokhov) to deploy further south to cover 
the north-east section of the Krakau defences. 

The idea is that we can hold our own in south-west 
Poland. The German advance up the left bank of the 
Vistula seems a very risky move. If it goes far enough the 
Russians might score a great victory with the ist, 2nd and 
5th Armies (thirteen corps against five !). 

10 p.m. Position according to a summary of informa- 
tion received from the south-west Front to-night, dated 

i86 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

November 2ist, is extraordinary as Nostitz says, a 
regular " gachis." 

We will know the result in a few days. Transport to 
rear is to be ready to move in any direction. The 3rd 
Army is to send two corps to the left bank of Vistula to 
strengthen our left. The 8th Army is to cover the 3rd 
Army's left as far as possible. The two corps of the 3rd 
Army to cross are the XXIst, to-morrow, and the Xth 
Corps with the 74th Division on Tuesday, the 24th. 

To fill the gap between the left of the 5th Army 
and the right of the 4th occasioned by the former's move 
northward, the Guard Cavalry Divisions and Tumanov's 
Cavalry Corps are being sent west to Petrokov, 

Monday, November z^rd, 1914. STSIBORJITSE. 

Sovorov 1 tells me that there is abundance of rifle 
ammunition in Russia, but the difficulty is to get it to the 
front owing to the miserable railway service. On the 
other hand, it is feared that there is a shortage of shell. 
General Alexyeev said the other day that he had no more 
shrapnel to send ! 

Rodzianko gives a heartrending account of the condi- 
tion of the wounded crowding the streets at Myekhov and 
Kyeltsi, with no place to go to where they might get food 
or even warmth. It is the obvious duty of the General in 
charge of the movement of troops at Kyeltsi to worry the 
civil governor till he has set apart proper accommodation. 
Rodzianko saw an unfortunate man who had been shot 
through the body in three places, and who had walked the 
seventy-five versts to railhead at Kyeltsi, only to find that 
no train was ready to take him and no waiting-room was 
ready to accommodate him till one arrived. It is another 
Russian superstition that their wounded are stronger than 
the wounded of other nations, because they do not complain, 
much less mutiny. 

Of course, the dearth of proper communications is more 

1 Staff of the Qth Army. 

October-December, 1914 187 

to blame than even slackness in organisation. After the 
Vistula battles we advanced without waiting to organise 
our rear services, to collect supplies of food and of am- 
munition, without completing to strength by drafts and 
without fitting out our men with winter clothing. The 
railways are now blocked with warm clothing, and am- 
munition trains have to wait while trains with Imperial 
gifts for the troops, that cannot at present be de- 
livered, are passed on to the front. 

There was general depression this morning owing to the 
receipt of orders to prepare for retreat in case of necessity. 
I drove with Rodzianko to Myekhov, but the staff of the 
army threw no light on the situation. 

The Illrd Caucasian Corps has only 6,500 rank and file 
left, and its drafts, like those of other corps, are only 
advancing by route march from Novo Alexandriya. 

Tuesday, November 24th, 1914. STSIBORJITSE. 

The gth Army has received orders to attack. The 
orders arrived at 2 a.m. It is said that they were issued 
by Lechitski, " on his own," and that the G.Q.M. Golovin 
did not know of them till daylight. 

It was a grand sunny day after a night of eight degrees 
of frost. I rode out alone to the 3rd Heavy Artillery 
Division near Sukha. Its escort, for lack of infantry, was 
furnished by two squadrons of the Grodna Hussars. I 
then went on to the 5th Field Artillery Battery of the 2nd 
Division of the Guard, and the Commander sent an orderly 
with me to show me the way to the staff of the Finlandski 
Regiment in the village of Yangrot. I had been told that 
all Yangrot was in our hands, but found bullets whistling 
down the street and the men running doubled up, as the 
western half of the village is still in the hands of the 
Austrians. The staff was in a small hut, the orderlies, with 
the exception of the telephonists, in the first room. In the 
second room there were five officers, one of them asleep. 
There was a table and two chairs, but no beds, and the 

i88 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

floor was littered with straw on which the officers sleep at 
night. I was told not to stand or sit near the window, as 
bullets might come in ; two horses had been killed just 
beside the house a few hours earlier. 

Only two companies out of the sixteen in the Finlandski 
Regiment are in reserve ; the remaining fourteen are con- 
tinually in the trenches. The cold in the trenches, 
especially at night, is intense. The men are allowed to go 
back occasionally to warm themselves, but the danger of 
doing so is so great that few avail themselves of the 
permission. The enemy is strongly entrenched with 
machine-guns in trees, and in the opinion of the officers it 
is impossible for the regiment to advance with its present 
strength. To-day was the ninth day that these poor 
fellows had been in this miserable hut. They gave me the 
impression of men who had got to the end of their nerve- 

On my return the battery gave me tea in their " Mess 
House/ 1 a comfortable dugout. I took a snapshot of the 

I then rode to Poremba Gorna. A N.O.O. of the Preo- 
brajenski who knew me took me to the priest's house and 
pointed out the damage that a shell had done four or five 
hours earlier. It had fallen between two rooms, both of 
which were crowded with orderlies", and it is a miracle that 
only a single man was contusioned. 

Spies must certainly have given information that Count 
Ignatiev, the Commander of the Regiment, was in the house, 
for it, and not the church which was just behind it, or the 
observation point on its immediate right, had been evi- 
dently fired at by the Austrian gunners. 

The Adjutant of the regiment took me out and 
explained the position. The left of the regiment had 
advanced some 1,000 yards, but with loss. One officer 
had been killed to-day and another yesterday. The 
Austrians are in great force and moved up reserves to meet 
our attack. 

October-December, 1914 189 

The Preobrajenski Regiment has now three battalions 
in firing-line and supports and one battalion in Kehlm in 
regimental reserve. The three battalions have four com- 
panies in support and eight in firing-line. The front 
occupied from somewhat south of the railway to north- 
west of Sukha is just under four versts. The officer con- 
sidered that the front was not too long for defence, but the 
strength of the regiment did not admit of attack. The 
difficulty now is that it is impossible to entrench when 
advancing, so hard is the ground. 

I heard on return that the " offensive " had had even 
worse luck in other parts of the field. The Grenadierski 
Regiment in advancing stumbled on to a whole hostile 
division and a battalion was practically wiped out. 

General Bezobrazov sent for me after supper and asked 
me my opinion on what I had seen. I told him what I 
thought : that we had not sufficient weight to carry an 
offensive through as we are situated at present. He said 
we would wait for Radko Dimitriev. This will take time. 

The General thought we should be in a very dangerous 
position for the next three or four days. I don't think the 
Austrians will attempt any very serious attack. 

No more news from the north, and I fear that in this 
case no news cannot be good news. 

Wednesday, November 2$th, 1914. STSIBORJITSE. 

It was warmer this morning about zero. I rode out 
with Rodzianko to Zadroje, where we lunched with 
General Etter of the Semenovski Regiment. Three 
battalions of this regiment are in corps reserve, and one 
forms the reserve of the 2nd Division. 

The Grenaderski Regiment yesterday lost very heavily, 
and has now only nine officers and 500 men. The Mos- 
kovski Regiment has only sixteen officers left. The 
Semenovski Regiment has lost ten officers killed and 
twenty wounded since the beginning of the war, and 
3,000 rank and file. The Preobrajenski Regiment has 

With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

lost forty-eight officers killed and wounded out of seventy. 
The 30,000 drafts for the gth Army, which are said to be 
on their way, and to have reached Kyeltsi, will be only a 
drop in the bucket. The necessity for rapid refilling of 
casualties owing to the enormous losses of modern war has 
been, I fear, lost sight of in Russia, and if we have to 
advance in the winter, our losses will be three times as 

We have lost several men frozen to death in the trenches 
at night. A captured Austrian officer's diary revealed the 
fact that one officer and six men in his company had been 
frozen to death in a single night. The coldest night has 
been 9 Reaumur. We may have 15 ! 

A captured Austrian officer says that our artillery is 
splendid, but he thinks little of our infantry. I think the 
infantry is much of it excellent, but it suffers from the 
rotten arrangements for replacing casualties and from 
want of cartridges and warm clothing. These two causes 
do not so much affect the artillery, which has few losses 
and can generally sleep comparatively comfortably. 

There are apparently nine divisions opposed to the 4th 
Army four German and five Austrian. The 4th Army is 
slightly superior on paper, but it is known that one of its 
corps, the Illrd Caucasian, has only 6,500 rank and file 

There are eighteen Austrian divisions opposed to the 
fourteen very weak divisions of the gth Army, but the 
3rd Army has moved five divisions across the Vistula to 
strengthen our left. 

Saturday, November 2$th, 1914. STSIBORJITSE. 

The Commander of the Grenaderski Regiment came in 

to supper last night. He told me he had been sent for by the 

Corps Commander, and he seemed very worried. I heard 

afterwards that he had been deprived of his command, 

being blamed for the failure of his regiment on the 24th. 

I rode with Rodzianko to Myekhov and lunched with 

October -December, 1914 

the staff of the gth Army. The German corps near Lodz, 
that it was hoped to cut off, has escaped. It had first 
marched south-west from Brezini towards Petrokov, then 
north-east and finally escaped north-west. Yesterday it 
was said that eighteen trains had been ordered to carry 
away the prisoners we hoped to take ! 

There is no fear of a catastrophe to the Russian armies 
in the north, but on the other hand there is no chance of a 
decisive victory. An uncomfortable feature is the advance 
of three cavalry and six infantry regiments towards 
Petrokov, in the direction of the gap left by the move 
north of the 5th Army, for in this area we have only 
cavalry to oppose them. 

An officer gave the number of bayonets in the gth 
Army on November 23rd as 93,000. Taking the division 
at 14,000 bayonets, the fourteen divisions of the army 
should contain 196,000, and the Army is therefore 103,000 
under strength. General Gulevich told me that 65,000 drafts 
are on their way, and to-day a telegram was sent asking 
that this number should be made up to 100,000. 

An officer returning from sick leave said that Petrograd 
is full of convalescent officers, who are not sent back to 
their regiments quick enough, and very many of whom try 
to get away on " side shows " such as automobile machine- 
gun companies. 

The staff of the 4th Army is at Vloshchova. 

Monday, November 30^, 1914. STSIBORJITSE. 

We have been a whole fortnight in this house, but 
move north to-morrow, our quarters here being taken over 
by the staff of the XVIIIth Corps. 

It was a fine day and I rode out at 10 a. m. to Poremba 
Gorna, where I found the staff of the Preobrajenskis had 
been forced to abandon the priest's house in favour of less 
exposed quarters further down the village. The Aus- 
trian heavy guns were shelling the village while I was 

With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

The Preobrajenskis gained a little ground on the 24th, 
which they have since held. The battalion in reserve is 
now changed nightly, so that each battalion has one night's 
rest in four little enough ! The new arrangements will 
narrow the front allotted to the army and so allow the men 
more rest. 

The first line is covered by scouts thrown forward to 
the neighbourhood of the Austrian trenches. These men 
have dogs which they use for carrying back messages to 
the trenches, attaching the message to the collar. A dog 
running back without any message attached is the signal 
for an alarm. 

I found poor old Ignatiev wringing his hands over 
instructions from the Corps P.M.O. that, in view of the 
frequency of cases of frost-bite, steps must be taken to 
keep the men's feet warm, and they must be constantly 
supplied with hot tea. " Such orders," he said, " are 
easy to write, but difficult to carry out, when not a day 
passes without one of the orderlies who carry the officers' 
lunches to the trenches being wounded." 

The Adjutant spoke of the prevalence of espionage, and 
blamed the Army Staff. A man who had been passed on 
from the regiment on the right appeared with an order 
permitting him to pass through the lines. He said that 
it was dangerous to pass through the Preobrajenski lines, 
and asked for a note for the unit on their left. This was 
given him, but it was a little too hot when the Commander 
of this unit reported that the individual wanted to go still 
further left. He was arrested and sent to the Staff of the 
Division. The Division passed him to the Staff of the 
Army, which released him ! There ought, of course, to be 
a special Intelligence officer with the regiment, which 
equals in strength our brigade. He would enquire into 
cases of espionage and would send on a proper report 
with the individual charged, so as to give the Staff of the 
Army less opportunity of exercising its high-minded 
generosity ! 

October -December, 1914 193 

Tuesday, December ist, 1914. YELCHA. 

Rodzianko came back last night from Myekhov with 
grave news. The right of our line on the north has 
retired before German pressure. The Grand Duke is 
much excited that Joffre has not taken the offensive ; he 
is convinced that the Germans have transferred largely 
from the Western theatre. 

Meanwhile the G.Q.M. Golovin has had agents' informa- 
tion that the Austrians will not defend Krakau. Ivanov 
had already ordered the 9th Army to withdraw, but in 
view of this report and the remarkable progress made by 
Radko-Dimitriev, who has pushed on south of Krakau, 
he permitted it to remain. 

Some Russians think that it is our Western diplomacy 
that prevents the commencement of the French offensive, 
since our Governments have decided with diabolical cun- 
ning that Russia must waste her strength, so that she may 
not emerge too strong from the war ! ! 

It is a fatal weakness of this eternal line formation that 
it gives no power of manoeuvre. If each of our armies had 
now a single corps in reserve, we could welcome the German 
attempt to turn the flanks of the 2nd and 5th Armies, for we 
could strike the turning column in flank and overwhelm it. 

At lunch to-day General Bezobrazov waxed eloquent 
on the necessity of attacking the Austrians in our front 
and of invading Silesia within a week. Golovin agreed to 
the idea when I spoke to him of it. He says we shall have 
some, at all events, of the 65,000 drafts in a few days, and 
some more cartridges. 

He showed me the translation of a German Army 
Order, warning the artillery to be sparing in their use of 
shell, as the productive resources of the country would not 
admit of waste. The battery commanders were told not 
to fire at any targets unless well marked. 

Wednesday, December 2nd, 1914. YELCHA. 

I drove to-day with Kotsube*, the Grand Duke's A.D.C., 


194 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

to visit the XlVth Corps and the 45th Division, which will 
be relieved to-night by the 2nd Guard Infantry Division. 

Kotsub has been sent by the Grand Duke to report on 
equipment. We found several men of the 45th Division 
with rifles equipped with old sights. Some have warm 
vests, but they are without warm drawers. Boots are 
generally in a dreadful state, and indeed they could not be 
otherwise, considering the distances that the men have 
covered and the fact that there have been no re-issues 
since the commencement of the war. The men say they 
are being sufficiently fed, but would like more bread, as 
the present ration of 2 Ibs. is not enough. I tasted 
" Sukhari," the Russian substitute for biscuit. It is 
simply dried black bread packed loose in sacks. 

The losses among officers have been very great. A 
General Staff officer of the i8th Division told me that his 
Division has now only forty left out of the 350 with which 
it commenced the war, but some of the absent are sick and 
wounded who will no doubt return. Battalions are com- 
manded by ensigns. At present a single officer has often 
a verst of trench to watch, and in consequence cannot hope 
to control expenditure of ammunition. One regiment 
has been losing as many as seven men per day in desertions 
to the enemy. The men are tried beyond their strength 
by having to remain in the trenches without relief. 

The Director of Equipment on the South- West Front 
arrived a day or two ago to take his son's body back to 
Petrograd. He was formerly Chief of the Department of 
Military Education. It is no wonder that the service of 
supply works badly ! 

Thursday, December $rd, 1914. YELCHA. 

I rode with Rodzianko to see the tunnel north of 
Myekhov. The repair work has been going on for over 
two weeks, but the railway battalion has only been there 
one week. There are now 1,000 men of the railway bat- 
talion and 500 hired labourers. 

October-December, 1914 195 

The eastern end was the more thoroughly destroyed. 
Only one of the two tunnels is being cleared, and the work 
appears to be going on very slowly. It may be finished in 
three weeks, i.e., by December 24th. Meanwhile the 
permanent way and bridges have been repaired as far as 
Volbrom the farthest point occupied by our troops. 
Some distance west of the tunnel we came upon a large 
grave with a cross erected by the Austrians, appealing to 
the Russians to respect the last resting-place of " brave 
men who had died in defending the approaches to their 
country." It appears that in a collision between two 
trains which took place just after the demolition of the 
tunnel, a spark from one of the engines ignited some kero- 
sine, which in turn blew up two wagons full of dynamite 
and seventy-six men were killed. 

We rode on to the Army Staff at Myekhov. I could 
not find out from Golovin how soon we would move. I 
asked if we would move within the next ten days, and he 
said, " Probably much sooner," but he could not give any 
reason for his opinion. I think I can go to Warsaw and 
perhaps to Petrograd without the risk of missing anything. 

The enemy column advancing from the west against 
Petrokov has not yet developed its movement, and is 
apparently waiting to increase its estimated strength of 
two German and two Austrian corps by drawing troops 
from further south. Meanwhile Ivanov has ordered the 
G.O.C. gth Army to select defensive positions in case it may 
be necessary to retire. 

The railway officials do nothing in war-time, ap- 
parently handing over all their functions to the railway 
staff officers. How inefficiently the latter work is evident 
from the fact that only six trains a day now run to Andreev. 
People say that under the management of the Ministry of 
Ways twenty pairs could be run ! The Corps Engineer 
has very little to do, and he would be usefully employed 

196 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

in superintending the repair of roads and railways. As it 
is, he only advises on fortification of positions and is vaguely 
responsible for engineer material. 

The work of the etapes leaves much to be desired. They 
are supposed to feed all details on the road to and from 
the front. Their failure to do this results in the robbing 
of the local population, which is naturally rendered 

An instance of bad administration is the order offering 
rewards of Rs.6 for the return of a Russian rifle and Rs.5 
for an Austrian. It was stated that the sums would be 
paid during a period up to one month after the date of 
order. Unfortunately the order was not distributed for 
a whole month after its date, and in any case no arrange- 
ments had been made to provide the ready money, so the 
local population soon gave up rifle-hunting as an un- 
profitable business. 

Friday, December tyh, 1914. YELCHA. 

As General Bezobrazov says there is unlikely to be any 
important move in this area during the next ten days I 
told him I would go to Warsaw and perhaps Petrograd 
to-morrow with Staff-Captain Chertkov. We will start 
at 8.30 a.m. and try to motor through to Warsaw in one 

Rode out with Rodzianko to see Dragomirov x at the 
Headquarters of the 2nd Guard Division at Poremba- 
Djerjna. He tells me that he can now organise reliefs in 
his trenches six days in the trenches and three days in 
reserve. There is no great Austrian strength in front. 
His Chief of Staff, Boldirev, is positive that we could 
squash the Austrians on our front if we were ordered to 
advance. ' If Bezobrazov had ordered a flank attack by 
the Semenovski Regiment on the 24th, the Grenadierski 
Regiment would have been saved." 

1 Vladimir Dragomirov, eldest son of the famous General. Afterwards 
Chief of Staff of the South-West Front and commander of a corps. 

October -December, 1914 197 

Brusilov is sending the XXIVth and Vlllth Corps to 
assist Radko south of Krakau. The latter has made good 
progress, occupying Wieliezka, the IXth Corps on his left 
penetrating a fortified position south-west of that town 

It is said that drafts of 32,000 men are expected in the 
gth Army by December 7th. Perhaps ! 

An officer who had been specially detailed to examine 
the condition of the men in the trenches in the gth 
Army stated to-night that, in a 2nd category division of the 
XVIIIth Corps, in one regiment in a single night, fifteen 
officers and 1,000 men deserted to the enemy, being no 
longer able to bear the rigour of the trenches. The regi- 
ment was left with only five officers and 850 men ! 

The General tells me to-night that the German attack 
in the Lovich direction is supposed to have failed. The 
only danger is now the flank attack towards Petrokov. 

The whole of the 5th Army was heavily engaged 
yesterday. It is said that the Germans have lost 12,000 
prisoners and 100,000 killed and wounded in these opera- 

Saturday, December tyh, 1914. WARSAW. 

It was 6 U of Reaumur last night, but to-day was bright, 
and it was appreciably warmer as we neared Warsaw. 

Chertkov and I got off at 10.15, and arrived at Warsaw 
at 7.30 a wonderful performance for 150 miles on roads 
crowded with transport. We stopped at Myekhov for 
fifteen minutes and at Radom to dine for seventy minutes. 

We passed about 9,000 drafts between Myekhov and 
Radom, most of the men straggling anyhow, with few 
officers. It was interesting to note the expressions of the 
men ; the young looked keen and happy, the older ones 
had a hopeless expression. Men over thirty are, with few 
exceptions, useless at the front. 

There is no ammunition depot in advance of Andreev, 

With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

which is railhead. I noticed the parks going and coming. 
Those returning had the two-wheeled small arms ammuni- 
tion carts piled with extra boxes. 

Warsaw is full of rumours as usual, but who can under- 
stand the movements of this last battle ! Russians say 
that Russians and Germans were fighting in concentric 
circles, and that the movements of the battle will perhaps 
remain for ever a military secret. 

The Germans who broke through are terrorising the 
countryside, and Warsaw is once more crowded with 
fugitives. All the hotels are full, and I had to go to the 
Europe instead of the Bristol, for the first time. The 
Germans in the north have retired from Tsyekhanov on 

German aeroplanes throw bombs daily on Warsaw. 

Neilson has just come in. He has been right through 
these operations, and will be able to give a connected 
account of them. We will go to Petrograd together to- 

Tuesday, December 8th, 1914. PETROGRAD. 

Neilson and I talked till 2 a.m. on Sunday. I had only 
just got to sleep when Maxim rang me up to say he had 
been arrested and was in the Citadel. He was released at 
6 a.m. It is found necessary now for the Warsaw police to 
arrest all rank and file in the streets after 9 p.m., so many 
stragglers from the front having been found. General Staff 
officers examine all officers' papers, and this, too, has 
been found very necessary. 

I went to see General Turbin, the Military Governor, 
on Sunday morning. He has no fears for the safety of 
Warsaw, as he tells me there are two prepared defensive 
lines, one seventy kilometres long and the other thirty, 
He estimates the German strength between the Vistula and 
Lask at thirteen corps ! The Russians have taken 15,000 

October-December, 1914 199 

German prisoners, and he estimates the total German loss 
at 120,000. He acknowledges a Russian loss of 53,000 
wounded, i.e., probably with killed 70,000 (and with 
prisoners 100,000, as Rodzianko told me). 

It is said that 270,000 men are now on their way to 
the front and that all losses will be filled up in eight days, 
i.e., by December I4th. The new men belong to the 
Opolchenie, and have been training for two to three 
months. I saw a lot at Warsaw, who looked excellent 
material, and we passed several troop trains on our way to 

This year's contingent should join in from three to five 
weeks, and is estimated at 950,000. 

We left Warsaw on Sunday by the 5 p.m. train and 
reached Petrograd to-day, Tuesday the 8th, at 8.30 a.m. 

I met General Van der Fliet, the Commander of the 
Petrograd Military District, this morning, and he told 
me that he was now left without troops. He had at 
one time nine divisions, four regular and five reserve, and 
they have all been sent to the front. He is sending off 
large reinforcements now almost daily. Ten thousand 
left yesterday. He has still here 67,000 Opolchenie 
training and 73,000 reservists. 

The Austrians are concentrating south of Krakau 
with the idea evidently of turning our left. The com- 
munique states that on this account the Ghenstokhov region 
has for the time being lost its importance. I understand 
that this means that the 4th and 9th Armies will move back. 

Rennenkampf has been succeeded in command of the 
ist Army by Litvinov. 

Lodz and Lovich are stated to-night to have fallen. 

The Ambassador thinks me very pessimistic ! 


Hindenburg's first offensive in Poland relieved pressure on the 
Austrians in Galicia, but failed in its more ambitious attempt 

200 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

against Warsaw. Ludendorff considers that the German gih 
Army fulfilled its task by drawing the bulk of the Russians 
north and holding them on the Vistula for what, in his opinion, 
should have been sufficient time to enable the Austrians to gain a 
decision on the San. However, Radko Dimitriev and Brusilov 
held fast, and the Russian Command was able to concentrate 
sufficient force before Warsaw to turn the German left, and finally 
to compel their retreat on the night of the iSth-igth October. 

The Russian Governor of Warsaw estimated the losses of the 
9th Army before the fortress at 60,000 to 70,000. This may be 
an exaggeration, but the losses were certainly considerable. 
The enemy, however, made good his further retreat to the frontier 
practically unscathed, though pursued by overwhelming forces of 
Russian cavalry. 

Then the Grand Duke launched the 5th, 4th and Qth Armies 
through South- West Poland with the idea of invading Silesia and 
moving by the valley of the Oder on Breslau. The ist and 2nd 
Armies guarded the immediate right of the offensive group, 
while General Sievers with the loth Army once more invaded East 
Prussia from the east. In Galicia the 3rd and 8th Armies were to 
advance to secure the left. 

Unfortunately the progress made by Radko Dimitriev and 
Brusilov was slow, and the German 8th Army in East Prussia, 
though in very inferior strength, prevented the second invasion 
of that province from becoming a real danger. 

With the extreme wings holding back, the Russian front, as 
the offensive group advanced, became more and more extended. 
The whole movement assumed the character of an eccentric 
advance, and invited another counterstroke from an enemy 
who had all the best of the communications. 

Some Russians consider that after the defeat of the first 
attempt on Warsaw the Russian Supreme Command should 
have fortified the Bzura and Ravka in advance of Warsaw, cover- 
ing the right of the offensive group with cavalry only, and that 
the armies of the group in that case the 5th, 4th and Qth 
should have moved forward in more compact formation, retaining 
each at least one corps in reserve. 

October-December, 1914 201 

The lowness of the remaining stocks of ammunition and 
the temporary weakness of the Russian effectives rendered the 
ambitious movement a gigantic bluff. The enemy had destroyed 
the railways thoroughly, and the Russian armies stumbled slowly 
on, as it were, hoping for something to turn up. As in August in 
East Prussia, the Grand Duke's plans were governed by a chival- 
rous desire to help the Allies in the West,cost what the effort might 
to Russia. 






ON November 1st Hindenburg was appointed Commander-in- 
Chief of the German forces in the East. He retained 
Ludendorff as his Chief of Staff. 

The German Command was apparently without accurate 
information of the weakness of the Russian army, and the Russian 
advance towards Silesia was regarded as a real danger which 
demanded serious precautionary measures. Certain of the mines 
in Upper Silesia were destroyed, and youths of serving age were 
evacuated to the West. 

On November 3rd Ludendorff suggested to Hindenburg the 
concentration of the gth Army under Mackenzen in the neighbour- 
hood of Thorn and its advance up the left bank of the Vistula " to 
deal the Russians such a blow as would not only bring their 
armies in the bend of the Vistula to a standstill once and for all, 
and so put an end to their offensive, but crush them decisively." l 

By November loth five and a half army corps and five cavalry 
divisions were assembled. The idea was to advance rapidly, first 
to overwhelm the left of the ist Russian Army and then to 
turn the right of the 2nd Army and so roll up the whole Russian 

The exact date on which the Russians received their first 
information of the concentration near Thorn is not known. It is 
possible that the ist Army had commenced a day or two earlier 

1 Ludendorff, p. 103. 


November-December, 1914 203 

to concentrate to its left, but up to the night of November I3th 
no corresponding move had been made by the other armies. The 
1st Army had on that date two corps on the left bank of the 
Vistula, including the Ilnd, which had been handed over from the 
2nd Army some days previously. The 2nd Army was on the 
Varta, with the 5th Army two marches in rear in echelon on its 
left. Further south the 4th and Qth Armies were waiting for 
the 3rd Army (Radko-Dimitriev) to come forward from the San 
in order to storm the Austrian trenches and invade Silesia. 

Mackenzen began his advance on November nth. 

On the 1 2th his left corps drove back the Vth Siberian Corps 
(1st Army), and occupied Vlotslavsk, taking 12,000 prisoners. 

Rennenkampf threw the Vlth Siberian Corps across to the left 
bank of the Vistula at Plotsk. 

Further south, on the I4th, the Germans attacked in over- 
whelming strength the Ilnd Corps (left corps, ist Army) and the 
XXIIIrd Corps (right corps, 2nd Army). 

Rennenkampf 's Vlth Corps was attacked on the right bank of 
the river, but passed some units over to the left or southern 

On the I4th, Scheidemann, the Commander of the Russian 
2nd Army, commenced to change front to the right. His idea 
was apparently to deploy his army on a line from Strikov to the 
west of Lenchitsa, facing north-east, and flanking the German 
advance up the left bank of the Vistula. He and the Staff of the 
North- West Front had under-estimated the German strength and 
rapidity of movement. His army narrowly escaped being cut to 
pieces in detail, in spite of its hard marching and fighting. 

On the I5th l and i6th the Vth Siberian, Vlth Siberian and 
Ilnd Corps of the ist Army, and the Ilnd Siberian and XXIIIrd 
Corps of the 2nd Army, were all engaged and lost heavily, leaving, 
according to German claims, 25,000 prisoners in the enemy's 

The remains of the Ilnd Siberian Corps retreated from Len- 
chitsa to Lodz ; the XXIIIrd Corps took up a line west of Lodz ; 

1 See Sketch A. 

204 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

the IVth Corps, marching north, only reached a line a short 
distance north of Lodz; the 1st Corps was forced back to the 
south-east of Lodz. 

Meanwhile Plehve, with the 5th Army, continued his march 
to the west and touched the Varta on the i6th, occupying Velyun 
with his cavalry. He was then ordered to retire, and on the I7th, 
after a forced march, reached practically the position he had 
occupied four days previously on the line Belkhatov-Kamensk, 
about twenty-five versts west and south-west of Petrokov. 

On the 17th, 1 Scheidemann's position became critical. In the 
previous three days he had frittered away much of his army in 
trying to stem the German advance. The enemy's XXVth 
Reserve Corps and 3rd Guard Division, with the 6th 
Cavalry Division, were working round his right flank. His front 
was being forced back south on Lodz by the attack of the XI th, 
XVIIth and XXth Corps. The Breslau Corps was already turning 
his left near Kazimerj. Little help was to be hoped for from the 
1st Army, for the remains of the Vlth, Vth Siberian and Vlth 
Siberian Corps were driven further up the left bank of the Vistula 
and further apart from the 2nd Army by the 1st Reserve Corps 
on the I7th and i8th. 

On the evening of the i8th the German Command thought it 
had the whole 2nd Army in its grasp. It looked forward by 
November 20th to a victory on a par with Cannae, Sedan or 
Tannenberg. " But the Grand Duke's counter-measures were not 
bad/', 2 

The arrangements for the rescue of the 2nd Army were worked 
out by General Ruzski at the Headquarters of the North- West 
Front. The success of the plans depended upon their intelligent 
translation into action by Rennenkampf, the Commander of the 
ist Army, and by Plehve, the Commander of the 5th. 

These two men, like Scheidemann, the Commander of the 2nd 
Army, of families German by origin, but long of Russian citizen- 
ship, were of very different type. Rennenkampf was the dashing 
cavalry soldier, personally brave, of the type that fills the eye 

i See Sketch B. 
z Die Schlacht bei Lodz, p. 33. 

24th November, 1914. E. of Yangrot, S.W. Poland. Officers of the 5th 
Battery, 2nd Guard Artillery Brigade 

[See page 188 

2nd December, 1914. Yelcha Rodzianko and telephone " sentry." 

To face page 204] [See page 1 94 

January, 1915. Mogilnitsa. Headquarters 5th Army 

[See page 227 

25th January, 1915. In Prince Lyubomirski's chateau at Mala Vyes. 
The Operations Section of the Staff of the 5th Army. 

[See page 234 

November -December, 1914 205 

as a leader of men. Plehve was small and old and bent, and weak 
in health. Rennenkampf had been personally popular in Vilna 
before the war, though he worked his men and horses hard. 
Plehve, in Moscow, had the reputation of interfering too much in 
detail. He was unpopular, except with his immediate associates, 
for he was very exacting and took no pains to make himself 
popular. Rennenkampf was on bad terms with his Chief of Staff, 
Miliant, and sometimes in the middle of the night was known to 
send off instructions, changing or modifying those issued by the 
Chief of Staff a few hours earlier. Miliant seems to have got on 
his nerves badly, and he finally told him one day ' ' to take his 
snout away " as he " could not bear the sight of it any longer." 
Plehve worked in complete unison with his brilliant Chief of 
Staff, Miller. Rennenkampf might have been a Murat if he had 
lived a hundred years earlier. In command of an army in the 
twentieth century he was an anachronism and a danger. Plehve 
was more of the Moltke school, with a logical mind and an iron will. 

It is natural that it was Plehve with the 5th Army that saved 
the 2nd Army from overwhelming disaster, while Rennenkampf is 
generally blamed for failing to take full advantage of the turn in 
the tide and for allowing the Germans to escape. 

Months later admirers of Plehve on the Staff of the 5th Army 
liked to describe how an orderly officer from Scheidemann rode 
up to the General on the march and called out in a state of 
breathless excitement : Your Excellency, the 2nd Army is 
surrounded and will be forced to surrender." Plehve looked at 
the youngster for a second or two from under his thick eyebrows, 
and then said : ' Have you come, Little Father, to play a tragedy 
or to make a report ? If you have a report to make, make it to 
the Chief of Staff, but remember, no tragedy-playing, or I place 
you under arrest." 

Orders were received for the 5th Army to move north to the 
assistance of the 2nd. Further south the 4th and gth Armies 
were directed to attack the enemy in their front in order to 
prevent at all costs further transfers to the north. Five cavalry 
divisions were sent to fill the gap between the 5th and 4th Armies. 

Plehve lost no time. The loth Division (Vth Corps) was 

206 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

ordered to Skernevitsi on the ijih. One regiment got through by 
rail before the line was cut by the German cavalry at Kolyushki. 
The remaining three regiments of the division engaged German 
troops at Tushin on the iQth. 

The whole of the remainder of the 5th Army marched north on 
the 1 8th. On that night the 1st Siberian Corps relieved Scheide- 
mann's left by driving back a division of the German Xlth Corps 
with the bayonet. It was supported on the left by the XlXth 
Corps, which routed the Breslau Corps on the igth. The 7th 
Division (Vth Corps) moved to Lask in reserve. 

The left of the 2nd Army was temporarily secured, but the 
greater danger lay on the right or eastern flank. There General 
Schaffer, the Commander of the XXVth Reserve Corps, had been 
joined by the 3rd Guard Division, which had detrained after 
Mackenzen's advance had commenced, but had caught up the 
main body by marches averaging fifty kilometres a day. Schaffer 
was also given the 6th Cavalry Division, and to him was allotted 
the bold task of enveloping the right flank of the 2nd Russian 

On the i8th he stormed Brezini and bivouacked that night 
south of the town. On the igth the advance was continued to 
the south and west. The 3rd Guard Division on the right or 
western flank of the penetrating force was severely engaged, but 
troops of the XXVth Corps reached Bendkov, twenty-five kilo- 
metres south-east of Lodz, with little opposition, while the 6th 
Cavalry Division reconnoitring in advance reached a point 
twelve kilometres north of Petrokov. 

On the following day the Guard and one division of the 
XXVth Corps, together with the Qth Cavalry Division, which had 
come through from the north, succeeded in fighting their way 
further west, so that by nightfall they had completely turned 
Scheidemann's flank and faced Lodz from the south. On the 
other hand, the 6th Cavalry Division had been forced to withdraw 
before enemy forces marching north from Petrokov, and if 
Schaffer had been aware of the failure of the right flank of the gth 
German Army he must have realised that little hope remained of 
surrounding the 2nd Army. On the morning of the 2ist, units 

November-December, 1914 207 

of the Guard reached the southern suburbs of Lodz, but were 
driven back by counter-attacks, probably of the 1st Corps, which 
was now bent back facing south. 

The 2nd Russian Army was being constantly pressed from 
the north. Its right wing was now confined to a narrow strip 
about seven miles wide. In some cases half of the guns of a heavy 
division faced south and the other half north. 

To save the situation, the ist Army launched two forces from 
the neighbourhood of Lovich on the 20th, and from Skernevitsi 
on the 2ist. 

The Lovich Force consisted of four columns : from right to left, 
the ist Turkistan Brigade, the 43rd Division, the 63rd Division 
and the 6th Siberian Division. Its units were up to strength, 
with the exception of the 43rd Division, which was very weak. 

The Skernevitsi Force consisted of one regiment of the loth 
Division and the 55th Division, which had been railed forward 
from Warsaw. It effected nothing. 

Captain, now Major, Neilson, late of the loth Hussars, ac- 
companied the Lovich Force. 

Its original orders were to advance with all possible speed in 
close contact with the Ilnd Corps on its right, and on no account 
to halt till it reached the 2nd Army. 

It started on November 20th, but only advanced five miles 
that day as the Ilnd Corps was held back by pressure from the 
north-west. About 6 p.m. the Commander of the Force, General^ 
Slyusarenko, was replaced by General Count Shuvalov, a retired 
cavalry officer and friend of General Rennenkampf . 

The Force had been hastily formed and was without proper 
staff, transport or medical services. All supplies had to be 
conveyed by road from Skernevitsi, and in consequence the 
troops were irregularly fed. All intercommunication was carried 
out by mounted orderly. The Staff at the time the Force started 
was completely in the dark regarding the general situation, and 
did not even know whether the 2nd Army was still in being. 
The cold was intense 10 to 15 of frost (Reaumur), and there 
was deep snow on the ground. Many of the wounded were 
frozen to death. 

208 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

On the 2 ist the four columns advanced twelve to thirteen 
miles, and the leading units halted for the night on a front of ten 
miles from one mile north-east of Strikov to five miles north-east 
of Brezini. So far no opposition had been met, but the enemy was 
reported to be in Strikov and Brezini. The staff spent the night 
at Glovno. Late in the evening about 100 prisoners were cap- 
tured by the 43rd Division, and among them were many tele- 
graphists from the German XXth, XXVth and Guard Corps who 
had lost their units. 

The Commander of the Force was changed for the second 
time in thirty-six hours, probably owing to orders received from 
the Staff of the North- West Front, and Count Shuvalov gave place 
to General Vasiliev, the Commander of the Vlth Siberian Corps, 
who brought with him Colonel Menshukov as his Chief of Staff. 

The original orders were modified. The two right columns, 
the ist Turkistan Brigade and the 43rd Division, were now directed 
to march through to the 2nd Army, while the two left columns, 
the 63rd and 6th Siberian Divisions, were ordered to move south- 
east of the right (or eastern) flank of the 2nd Army and along the 
Skernevitsi-Lodz railway. 

On the 22nd the ist Siberian Division (Ist Siberian Corps) 
was moved east and flung back Schaffer's advanced troops. On 
the same day the German Ist Reserve Corps failed in an attempt 
to take Lovich. At 7 p.m. Schaffer received orders from the 
Army Command to retire north and re-establish his line of com- 
munications by driving the Russians from Brezini. 

That day the right and left columns of the Lovich Force had 
captured Strikov and Brezini after severe house-to-house fighting. 
At nightfall the ist Turkistan Brigade billeted with the Ilnd Corps 
in and north-east of Strikov, and the 43rd Division halted four 
miles to the south of that town. The 63rd and 6th Siberian 
Divisions made good progress, the latter reaching the village of 
Kolyushki four miles south of Brezini. The attack on Strikov 
took place in a thick mist, and the Turkistan Brigade lost heavily, 
especially in officers. In taking Brezini the 6th Siberian lost 700 
men but liberated 600 Russian prisoners. 

The Staff of the Force moved to Volya Tsirusova in rear of the 

November-December, 1914 209 

63rd Division, and was visited there in the afternoon by General 

Touch was established with the 2nd Army, and Lodz was 
found to be still in Russian hands. The enemy strength opposing 
each column was estimated at about a brigade. 

As the advance of the right and left columns was likely to be 
further delayed, the centre columns the 43rd and 63rd Divisions 
were ordered to march through to join the 2nd Army. 

On the 23rd the Staff of the Force moved at 10 a.m. to Brezini. 
The right column remained at Strikov with the Ilnd Corps. The 
43rd and 63rd Divisions reached the lines of the 1st Corps (2nd 
Army) at 4 p.m. and 3 p.m. respectively. 

Captain Neilson motored with two officers in the morning from 
Volya Tsirusova to the Headquarters of the 1st Corps south-east 
of Lodz. He found the corps " in a most unpleasant situation, 
in a small semi-circle, Staff, reserves, artillery, transport, all 
huddled together, heavy and field guns all mixed and pointing 
in all directions." 

At 5 p.m. the 6th Siberian Division, which was now 
isolated in a position facing south on the railway west of Kolyushki, 
reported that three German columns, estimated at three divisions, 
were marching against it from the south, and asked for help. 
The Commander of the 1st Corps was implored to move, but he 
and his troops had been badly hustled, and had been cowed into 
passivity. He and they, or possibly only he and his Staff, lacked 
the reserve of stamina necessary for renewed effort. He hesi- 
tated, and finally decided to ask the Army Commander. The 
latter did nothing. 

The Commander of the 63rd Division consented to move, but 
very reluctantly and much too late. Yet the distance from 
Andrjespol, which was occupied by the troops of the 1st Corps, 
to the nearest units of the 6th Siberian Division cannot at this 
time have exceeded four miles ! 

Captain Neilson left the Staff of the 1st Corps and motored 
to Brezini, where he rejoined the Staff of the Lovich Force, " after 
an unpleasantly exciting drive through forests in the dark, 
blindly evading enemy columns." 


210 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

The 6th Siberian Division fought well all day and captured 
two batteries complete with teams and wagons, 300 prisoners and 
a number of machine-guns. At nightfall the Division was en- 
trenched on the line Yanovka-Galkov, and the 63rd Division was 
in the neighbourhood of Andrjespol. 

Each side exaggerated the difficulties of its own position, and 
certainly the terrible climatic conditions conduced to pessimism. 
Two short extracts from Captain Neilson's diary of this night are 
interesting : 

Prisoners state that the Germans know they are 
surrounded. Their spirits have fallen considerably 
fatigue, cold and hunger. They have had ten days' 
continuous fighting, marching every night, nothing to eat 
for three days. To-day was extremely cold very hard 

Again : 

As prisoners have been taken from all three corps 
the XXth, XXVth and Guard Reserve it is thought that 
the German main body of the strength of three corps is 
marching north against the 6th Siberian Division. 

It was not known till the following day that in rear of the 
German columns and only a very short distance from them were 
the ist Siberian Division and the loth Division of the 5th Army, 
and also Novikov's Cavalry Corps. But why was this not known 
in time ? The information might have been conveyed through 
the 5th Army, the Staff of the North- West Front and the ist 
Army, or it might have been obtained directly on the spot by 
ordinary reconnaisance by the numerous Russian cavalry 
Kaznakov's and Gharpentier's divisions which were in touch with 
the Staff of the Lovich Force. 

At i a.m. Neilson went to sleep at Brezini on the floor of the 
hut occupied by the Staff, and at 5 a.m. on the 24th he was awak- 
ened by shooting in the streets. The motor-cars were frozen, and 
the Staff, which was without escort, escaped with some difficulty. 
It eventually assembled in an armoured train at the station of 

November-December, 1914 211 

Kolyushki. It had lost touch with all columns of the Force, 
and remained a helpless spectator of the destruction of the 6th 
Siberian Division. 

The enemy worked round both flanks of the division, which 
had been ordered to hold its ground at all costs. An attempt to 
relieve its right it can only have been a half-hearted attempt 
by the 63rd Division failed about 9 a.m. The Caucasian Cavalry 
Division (Charpentier), which was supposed to guard its left or 
eastern flank, retired at once. Finally at n a.m., abandoned by 
everyone, enfiladed from both flanks and attacked in front, the 
division retired to the north, and finding Brezini occupied, dis- 
persed, some of the men filtering through west to the 2nd Army 
and about 1,500 making their way eventually to Skernevitsi. 

It can have been no easy task for Schaffer to withdraw troops 
that were in close contact with the enemy, but, though he had 
only received the order to retire at 7 p.m. on the 22nd, all his 
columns were in movement five hours later, apparently un- 
noticed by the Russians, who did not pursue till daylight. 

After his destruction of the 6th Siberian Division on the 24th, 
his line of retreat was clear, for the Ilnd Russian Corps was that 
day outflanked and driven back to the north-east. He eventually 
rejoined the gth German Army, though Strikov and Glovno, and 
the Germans claim that he not only lost no guns and few wounded, 
but carried with him in his retirement 16,000 prisoners and sixty- 
four captured enemy guns. 

Whether the German official claim be well founded or not, the 
exploits of this penetrating force of three infantry and two cavalry 
divisions afforded remarkable proof of the wonderful efficiency of 
the units concerned, the genius for bold leadership of the com- 
mand, and the training, power of endurance and intelligence of 
all ranks. 

The Russian Command had expected to make a large capture. 
They had ordered eighteen trains to take the captives away. In 
the gth Army, then near Krakau, it was actually stated that 
26,000 prisoners had been captured. It seems on the whole 
probable that the details of the instructions to the Lovich Force 

212 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

were left entirely to Rennenkampf , and that, badly served by his 
cavalry and misled by the wireless appeals from Scheidemann, 
he failed entirely to appreciate the situation. 

Naturally, after a fortnight of such strenuous fighting units 
on both sides were much mixed up. The German penetrating 
forces came into line between the XXth Corps and the 1st Reserve 
Corps, and the German Qth Army formed once more a continuous 
front. It opposed the Russian ist, 2nd and 5th Armies on a line 
from Gombin, south-east of Plotsk, in advance of Lovich and 
north of Brezini and Lodz. This line was occupied from right to 
left by the following units : 

Vth Siberian Corps, Vlth Siberian Corps, 53rd Division, Guard 
Cossack Brigade, 4th Division (Vlth Corps), 67th Division (lately 
arrived from Petrograd), i4th Cavalry Division (Ist Cavalry Corps), 
loth Division (Vth Corps, 5th Army), Caucasian Cavalry Division, 
ist Siberian Division (Ist Siberian Corps, 5th Army), 43rd Division 
(Ilnd Corps, ist Army), 6th Siberian Division (Vth Siberian 
Corps, ist Army), I Vth Corps and XXIIIrd Corps (both of the 
2nd Army), 2nd Siberian Division (Ist Siberian Corps, 5th Army), 
XlXth Corps (5th Army), Tumanov's Cavalry Corps, the ist and 
2nd Guard Cavalry Divisions. 

The Germans received large reinforcements. The Illrd 
Reserve Corps and the XHIth Corps were placed on the left of 
the gth Army. The Ilnd Corps was sent to Syeradz, and the 
48th Reserve Division reinforced the Breslau Corps further 

The Russian Command detailed two corps from the 4th and 
Qth Armies and moved them north, but it was too late. The 
German Ilnd Corps advanced with success. The Russians 
evacuated Lodz on December 6th. On the I5th Lovich was lost. 

The Russian armies fell back to the " river line/' Bzura-Ravka- 
Nida-Dunajec, which they were to hold for some seven months. 

The above is a brief record of the main movements of an 
operation that will probably, if the Russian official records are 
ever published, prove to be the most interesting from the military 
psychological point of view of any in the war. 

November-December, 1914 213 

Throughout probably most of the eight days, i8th to 25th, the 
German and Russian Supreme and Army Commands must have 
been enveloped in a " fog of war." In such cases the side whose 
corps, division and regiment leaders have been trained in peace to 
self-sacrificing co-operation has inestimable advantages. If 
placed in a similar position, no German Corps commander would 
have hesitated, as the Commander of the 1st Russian Corps 
hesitated on the evening of the 23rd, about sending help to the 
hard-pressed 6th Siberian Division. 

The final order for the retreat of the German gth Army on the 
abandonment of Hindenburg's first offensive had been issued 
on October 26th. This army retreated rapidly over some 200 
kilometres to the German frontier without losing morale, in spite 
of its severe defeat before Warsaw and the subsequent pursuit 
by overwhelming Russian cavalry. It destroyed the com- 
munications as it went. It replaced all losses in personnel and 
equipment, and concentrated further north, to launch its lightning 
offensive on November nth fifteen days later. This was a 
masterpiece of organisation. 

At first all went well with Mackenzen. He severely defeated 
units amounting to about half of the strength of the ist and 2nd 
Russian Armies before those armies had time to concentrate. He 
pushed the two armies apart and turned the right flank of the 
Russian offensive. Then he failed, owing to the weakness and 
bad timing of the German offensive further south, which allowed 
the Russian 5th Army to be moved north to save the situation. 

The German Supreme Command might have done bet:er to 
have delayed the commencement of the offensive till the arrival 
of the reinforcements from France, which finally compelled the 
Russian retreat. The Russian armies might have been allowed 
to waste themselves for another week or two against the German 
and Austrian positions with little danger to the Central Powers. 
Owing to shortage of rifles and gun ammunition, weakness of the 
effectives, and disorganisation of the lines of communication they 
were incapable of a serious offensive. If they had been allowed 
to stumble on to the Posen and Silesian frontier, and Mackenzen's 
army had then been launched from the region of Mlava, it would 

214 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

have occupied Warsaw and the middle Vistula long before the 
Russian armies could have been recalled. The Russians would 
have been cut off from their base, and without ammunition and 
largely without warm clothing they would have been compelled 
to surrender. As it was, the German offensive lapsed to a merely 
frontal attack and forced the Russians back to the river line, 
where, based in comparative security on the best communications 
in the Empire, their armies were able to re-form. 

The Russian Intelligence, which was generally good, seems to 
have been to blame for failing to obtain timely information of 
the concentration of the Qth German Army in the neighbourhood 
of Thorn, and of its strength when it advanced. We can only 
ascribe the action of the commanders of the ist and 2nd Russian 
Armies to their ignorance of the situation. Both of them gravely 
risked the defeat of their armies in detail through under-rating the 
German strength and rapidity of movement. On the i6th, five 
days after the launching of the German offensive, the 5th Army 
was calmly advancing ta the Varta, only to retrace its steps by 
forced march the following day. 

If Mackenzen's operation against the 2nd Army was a typical 
German enveloping movement, similar to the tactics at Tannen- 
berg and to the attempt made in February, 1915, at Prasnish, the 
move north of the Russian 5th Army to the rescue of the 2nd 
approximates to an example of the grand tactics of the so-called 
French school. The work of the 5th Army was brilliant. The 
XlXth Corps started on its return march from the Varta at 
6 a.m. on the lyth, marched thirty-three miles by 2 a.m. on the 
1 8th, started again that day at n a.m. and marched thirty-seven 
miles more, going into action at 7 a.m. on the igth north-west of 
Lask. The Ist Siberian Corps started at about the same time, 
covered an equal distance, and drove the Xlth German Corps 
back with the bayonet on the night of the i8th. Only the know- 
ledge that further German echelons were preparing to advance 
from Velyun prevented the XlXth Corps from driving home its 
attack against the inferior troops of the Breslau Corps. 

The effort of the ist Army to relieve pressure on the 2nd 
Army was less effective. It is difficult to understand the orders 

November -December, 1914 215 

issued to the Lovich Force by the Staff of the ist Army and the 
ignorance of the general situation which made the issue of such 
orders possible, for the 2nd Army was throughout in touch 
through the 5th Army with the Headquarters of the North- West 
Front at Syedlets, with which Rennenkampf was in direct tele- 
graphic communication. The ist Army, like the 2nd, seems to 
have been for the time morally dominated by the boldness of the 
German leadership. 

It is a question whether the Grand Duke might not have 
detached from the front of the 4th and Qth Armies on the i6th or 
I7th, when the situation was becoming evident, sufficient force 
to have overwhelmed the German offensive. The risk from the 
Austrians was not great, and Radko-Dimitriev might have 
temporarily retired to the Dunajec. Of course there were diffi- 
culties ; the roads for such a lateral movement were few, and 
there were no railways, and the Grand Duke preferred to hold 
fast to his own plan the invasion of Silesia. It is not known 
whether this project was considered. It is evident that the 
division of the whole army into two fronts the North- West 
and the South- West militated against the conception of such a 
manoeuvre. The Commanders of the two fronts were allowed 
much latitude, and Ivanov naturally held fast to the Silesian idea. 
It is an interesting fact that the 4th Army, which had been 
handed over from the South- West to the North- West Front at 
midnight on November I3th, was returned to the South-West 
Front on the i8th, when the magnitude of the German effort 
must have been known, and Ruzski was left to work out his 
salvation with the ist, 2nd and 5th Armies. 







NEILSON and I remained in Petrograd from December 8th 
till the 23rd, and then, at the Ambassador's request, 
visited G.H.Q. from the 24th till the 30th in order to consult 
with the Allied representatives there regarding the shortage of 

The chief deficiencies were in rifles and gun ammunition. 

On mobilisation there are said to have been 4,275,400 three- 
line rifles of the four types, " Infantry," " Dragoon," " Cossack ' 
and " Carbine," and 362,019 Berdans. In spite of this large 
stock, I heard some months later that General Kusmin-Karavaev, 
the aged Chief of the Artillery Department, at once realised that 
more would be required, and on the fourteenth day of mobilisation 
dispatched Colonel Federov of his department to Japan with 
instructions to purchase, if possible, an extra million. Federov 
only succeeded in obtaining 200,000, which were now being 
received and distributed to police, gendarmerie and frontier 
guards, releasing an equal number of three-line rifles for use at 
the front. Russian factories were said to be producing 45,000 
rifles a month. Apart from the Japanese rifles, there was little 
hope of obtaining large supplies from abroad, though an army of 
' commercial adventurers with more or less attractive proposals 
descended on Russia. The Western Allies had already been in 
the market and had tapped all possible sources, 


January -March, 1915 217 

If there really were upwards of five million rifles on mobilisa- 
tion, it is extremely difficult to account for a shortage after about 
four months of war. It was ascribed, officially, to the loss of rifles 
with prisoners, of the rifles of wounded men during retirements, 
and of wounded men even during an advance, for the comman- 
dants of posts on the lines of communication who were charged 
with the duty of their collection were already overworked. The 
need for care in the collection of rifles had been overlooked. The 
first drafts arrived at the front fully armed, and the officers and 
officials in the forward area imagined that the supply in the 
interior was inexhaustible. The commanders of units did not 
care to burden their transport with rifles which were not at that 
moment required. The Commander of the Guard Corps told me 
that on one occasion his corps, on taking over trenches from units 
of the line, found that Russian rifles had been used in the con- 
struction of overhead cover. I had myself on several occasions 
seen rifles lying on the battlefield two and three days after 
fighting had ceased. There had been many panics, and the men 
when running away threw their rifles away, and remained un- 
punished, for discipline was far too slack. 

A proclamation offering Rs.6 for each Russian rifle and Rs.5 
for each Austrian rifle had no useful result. 

Whatever the cause of the shortage, pre-war swindling or 
war-time slackness, that the shortage existed was now evident. 
The G.O.G. 6th Army at Petrograd said on December Qth that 
he had to train drafts for the front with only one rifle to three 
men. Units at the front were now only half strength, and the 
Assistant Minister of War stated that the only obstacle to the 
dispatch in the next few weeks of some two million drafts was 
the impossibility of arming them. 

The initial reserve of artillery ammunition had been cal- 
culated at 1,000 rounds per gun. As a matter of fact, the stores 
are said to have contained 5,200,000 out of the proper total of 
5,400,000 (3,590 first-line and 1,824 second-line guns, or altogether 


The daily expenditure of shell in the first hundred days of 

war averaged 45,000 rounds. 

218 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

The home factories, which had been engaged chiefly since 
mobilisation in filling shrapnel, could not have produced more 
than 300,000 new shell. It was impossible to obtain details, but 
it was calculated that on December 3rd there could not have been 
more than one million Russian three-inch shell remaining in all 
echelons of supply. 

The daily output of home factories was expected to rise to 
8,000 a day in December and to 20,000 a day by July. Contracts 
for the delivery of 8,000,000 rounds by November I5th, 1915, had 
been placed in the home market. Orders had been placed for 
4,500,000 abroad. Of the latter, Vickers had taken a contract 
for 2,000,000, but no foreign order was expected to substantiate 
before March, and as a matter of fact none of them pioduced 
anything till much later. 

The Chief of Staff at G.H.Q., General Yanushkevich, explained 
that, on his appointment to be Chief of the General Staff in the 
spring of 1914, he had recommended that the initial stocks should 
be raised from 1,000 to 2,000, but war had intervened before the 
necessary credits had passed the Duma. 

In November, 1914, in consequence of the losses of guns in 
East Prussia, instructions had been issued for the reduction of all 
eight-gun batteries to an establishment of six guns. This meant 
that the guns of the infantry division were reduced from forty- 
eight to thirty-six a serious matter in itself, but now of no 
consequence, as the shortage of shell had become the governing 

It was on December i6th that the Grand Duke explained to 
Laguiche that, owing to his great losses and the shortage of rifles 
and shell, he was forced to retreat. The same day Yanushkevich 
said that he had counselled retirement to the Vistula, but the 
Grand Duke, with soldierly instinct, preferred the more forward 
line of the Bzura-Ravka-Nida. 

On December 26th, while Neilson and I were at G.H.Q., the 
Chief of Staff told Laguiche that a real offensive could not be 
undertaken till the end of July if Russia had to depend on her own 
resources. The possibility of taking the offensive sooner de- 
pended on the supplies of shell received from abroad. The 

January -March, 1915 219 

Grand Duke wished to do all he could, but he could do no more." 
Now we knew how things stood, it could only be regarded as a 
matter of congratulation that before the munitions difficulty 
became apparent our advance had been stopped by the German 
offensive up the left bank of the Vistula. If the enemy had 
allowed us to enter Silesia be c ore he counter-attacked, there is 
every probability that we would have suffered a great disaster. 

It is, however, an interesting question whether the Grand 
Duke really knew of the depletion of the reserves of rifles and shell 
when he telegraphed to the Allies giving a date for the occupation 
of Breslau. The organisation of the rear services was based on 
regulations that were still in manuscript on the first day of 
mobilisation, and were consequently known only to the officers 
and officials of high rank who had spent some five years in their 
compilation. Under these regulations, the services of Equip- 
ment and Supply including Ordnance were controlled by 
individuals at the Headquarters of the Gommanders-in-Ghief of 
Fronts in the case of the North- West Front by a General who 
had been previous to mobilisation the Chief of the Office of the 
Minister of War, and in the South- West Front by a General who 
had been in peace the Director-General of Military Education. 
These officers, besides being little fitted by peace training for the 
duties they were now called upon to perform, had no direct 
representative at the Grand Duke's Headquarters. They cor- 
responded direct with the Ministry of War at Petrograd. It is 
possible that General Sukhomlinov's optimism and his intense 
desire to please especially those of Imperial rank may have 
prevented him from representing to the Grand Duke matters in 
their true light. 

The secretiveness of many responsible Russian officials and 
their suicidal desire to represent the situation in a falsely favour- 
able light made it at all times exceedingly difficult for allied 
representatives in Russia to keep their Governments posted with 
timely and accurate information. The following is an instance. 
On September 25th General Joffre had enquired by telegram 
whether the resources of the British and Russian Governments 
permitted of the indefinite continuance of the war at the then 

220 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

rate of expenditure of ammunition, and, if they did not, up to 
what date did the supply suffice. The French Ambassador at 
Petrograd passed on the question to the Russian Government in 
an official letter. The Minister of War replied on September 
28th that the question of the supply of ammunition in the Russian 
army gave no cause for anxiety, and that the Ministry of War was 
taking all necessary steps to provide everything required. At 
the same time the French Military Attache* learned from an 
unofficial source that the output of factories in Russia then 
amounted to only 35,000 shell a month. Unfortunately, he had 
no means of ascertaining that the rate of expenditure at the front 
then averaged 45,000 a day, and he believed that the initial stock 
on mobilisation was more than twice as large as it really was. 

If General Sukhomlinov and his Staff had worried to ap- 
preciate the situation at the end of September, they must have 
known that the initial stock only provided shell for two more 
months of war, and they should then at once have taken adequate 
measures to cope with the difficulty by ordering from abroad. 

It subsequently became known that the officials at Petrograd 
received ample warning. On September Qth the Staff of the 
South- West Front had telegraphed to the Artillery Department : 
"It is essential to replace the almost exhausted supplies of 
shell." On October 26th Ivanov had telegraphed : " Supplies 
of ammunition are entirely exhausted. If not replenished, 
operations will have to be broken off and the troops retired under 
most difficult conditions." 

Over a year later I learned on unimpeachable authority that 
in the middle of October General Kuzmin Karavaev, an honour- 
able old man, whose nerves had been shaken by his immense 
responsibilities as Chief of the Artillery Department, went to 
Sukhomlinov, weeping, and said that Russia would have to make 
peace owing to the shortage of artillery ammunition. The 
Minister of War told him to "go to the devil and quiet himself." 
How strange it is that orders were not then placed abroad ! 

Sukhomlinov was at this time sixty-six years of age. He had 
been appointed Minister of War in 1909 after holding for three 
months the post of Chief of the General Staff. Originally an 

January -March, 1915 221 

officer of the Cavalry of the Guard, he had spent much time as 
Instructor and Commandant of the Officers' Cavalry School. He 
was a General of the evergreen type, a light-hearted man, charac- 
terised by his enemies as a " buffoon," whose influence over the 
Emperor was ascribed to his fund of excellent stories. He, in 
turn, was much under the influence of his fourth wife, a lady many 
years his junior. She is, in fact, said to have been only twenty- 
three when, as Madame Butovich, wife of an inspector of schools, 
she attracted, in 1906, the attention of the amorous General, then 
Governor of Kiev. Butovich was divorced, much against his will, 
and retaliated six years later by attacking his supplanter in a 
Petrograd evening paper. In these articles he asserted that the 
Kiev Secret Police had been used freely by the Governor to procure 
evidence against him, that he had had to flee the country, as he 
was threatened with detention in a madhouse or with transporta- 
tion to Siberia, that the signatures to the documentary evidence, 
on the strength of which the divorce was finally declared, were 
forged, and that the papers on which the defence relied were 
conveniently lost while in charge of a Government Department. 
The opposition evening paper took the part of the Minister, and 
described the life of his wife with her former husband as a " family 
hell." Both parties forgot the Russian proverb which warns 
people to " keep their own dirt at home," and if the exposure did 
not shake the Emperor's confidence in his Minister, it relieved for 
a time the tedium of pre-war Petrograd. 

Sukhomlinov was a courtier and an official of the autocratic 
type who never took kindly to parliamentary interference in 
matters of national defence, though the main object of that 
interference had been in Russia to force expenditure in order to 
secure efficiency, and not, as in other countries, to save the tax- 
payer's pocket for the moment. He had lived very much above 
his emoluments of Rs. 27,000 a year. The Emperor is said to 
have paid his debts at least once from his private purse, and 
Sukhomlinov himself tried to make both ends meet by the 
travelling allowance he earned on long journeys of inspection. 
As a Minister was entitled to draw for the hire per verst of twenty- 
four horses, and the journey was of course done by rail, the 

222 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

income derived from a trip of 12,000 versts to Vladivostok and 
back was considerable. 1 

The Assistant Minister of War was General Vernander, a 
patriarchal figurehead of seventy years of age, whom Sukhomlinov 
had nominated in 1912 to replace General Polivanov, with whom 
he had quarrelled. 

I interviewed Sukhomlinov in Petrograd on December i6th 
to ascertain his views regarding rifles and shell. His first remark 
was : "As you know, the Germans have been preparing for this 
war since 1870. We never commenced preparation till five years 
ago, when I became Minister of War. We have done a lot since 
then, but I wanted two years more/ 1 

He said that the 1914 contingent of " 1,400,000 recruits " 
would join the colours in January, and that rifles would not be 
wanting as they had been ' ' ordered and were on their way from 
America." This was a gross misstatement of fact. The contract 
for the American rifles had not then been signed, and the rifles 
did not begin to arrive in any numbers till eighteen months later ! 

At this time the optimism of the Military Correspondent of 
the Times proved very trying to readers in Russia who were 
acquainted with the real situation. The thick reserve columns 
that appeared in Times maps in rear of the Russian front gave 
an entirely false impression. So far, while fighting was in 
progress, I had never known a corps, and seldom even a division, 
to be in reserve. In the advance after the Vistula battles 
the front of the ist, 2nd, 5th, 4th and 9th Armies had been drawn 
out from near Ostrolenka to Sandomir in a pathetic attempt to 
avoid German outflanking movements. When the ist and 2nd 
Armies got into difficulties, troops to re-establish the position had 

1 At the trial of General Sukhomlinov in 1917 for having failed to take 
timely steps before and during the war to increase the supply of arms and am- 
munition and on other charges the prosecution made some startling revelations 
regarding his pecuniary affairs. It was stated that his bank balance when he was 
transferred to serve at Petrograd was Rs. 5 7,000, and that in six years he paid in no 
less than Rs. 702, 737 and 26 kopeks including a sum of Rs. 20,000 given by the 
Khan of Khiva for the purchase of a present for Madame Sukhomlinov though 
his total emoluments during the period only amounted to Rs. 270,000, and, 
owing to Madame Sukhomlinov's extravagance, the annual expenditure of the 
couple amounted to at least Rs.5o,ooo to Rs.75,ooo. 

January -March, 1915 223 

to be drawn from the front of the loth, 5th, 4th and gth Armies. 
In December, 1914, it is calculated that there were nominally 
on the front thirty-two regular corps and the equivalent of fifteen 
second-line corps. This should have meant 2,200,000 combatants, 
but on the analogy of the Qth Army, which on December 5th had 
an effective rifle strength of only about a third of establishment, 
the total number of combatants actually on the front certainly 
cannot have exceeded 1,200,000. Of course, the Military Cor- 
respondent's constant references to the " Russian steam-roller ' 
may have been so many conscious endeavours to depress the 
morale of the enemy and to raise our own. 

The Grand Duke decorated Neilson and me with the 4th Class 
of the Order of St. Vladimir. He was as nice as ever, but seemed 
much worn and worried. 

On Christmas Day he sent me a message that the Emperor 
was expected at Baranovichi on the 26th, and that he wished 
Neilson and me to remain till he left. 

We only saw the Emperor for five minutes on the 28th. He 
was returning with some of his staff from one of the long walks 
which he constantly took. He spoke to us for a few minutes, 
asking us what part of the front we had visited. His train was 
drawn up on a siding in the woods near the train of the Grand 
Duke, and the whole area was encircled by three rows of sentries, 
mounted Cossacks outside, then dismounted Cossacks, then 
gendarmes. It would have been difficult for the most enter- 
prising revolutionary to have got through. 

Our time at Baranovichi was spent in conferences about 
munitions. Before the Emperor left, he thanked General 
Hanbury- Williams for the trouble he had taken, and assured him 
that he would see in future that red-tapism did not interfere with 
the provision of adequate supplies. 

On the Sunday the Emperor and most officers attended a 
cinema performance of scenes from the front. One picture of 
the burial of hundreds of bodies in a common grave was par- 
ticularly gruesome, and continued for five minutes, till many 
people in the room called out " Enough ! " 

224 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

Neilson and I arrived in Warsaw on the afternoon of December 
30th. He left on January 2nd to join Radko Dimitriev with the 
3rd Army on the Dunajec. He and I were the only two forward 
observing officers of the British Army, so it was best for us to 
separate, much as I would have liked to have kept him with me. 
He speaks Russian well and had become very popular with all 
Russians, among whom he had established quite a reputation for 

I spent the next few days in Warsaw, which was always a 
clearing-house for information, the Bristol Hotel especially being 
a rendezvous for officers on leave from various armies at the 

Even with the enemy at the gates, Warsaw remained a 
delightfully light-hearted city. The Poles had seen the Germans 
beaten back when they were still nearer, and were now extra- 
ordinarily confident. It was pleasant to meet old friends every 
day, who all arrived in good humour at the prospect of a few 
days' release from the tedium of the front. Alcohol was pro- 
hibited, but this regulation was winked at in the Bristol at all 
events, though to keep up appearances champagne was served in 
a teapot and drunk from cups. When I dined at other res- 
taurants I took a flask with me. The Grand Duke Boris told me 
that he carried more than one flask, to suit his changing fancy and 
to ease the strain of war. 

Such, indeed, was the attraction of Warsaw that special 
measures were required to prevent officers and others from 
straggling from the front. Surprise visits were often made to 
hotels, and all officers were made to show their leave certi- 
ficates. Any men in the streets after 8 p.m. were arrested and 
taken to the citadel. Tea-shops and restaurants were not 
allowed to serve soldiers, who could only, therefore, obtain 
Government rations, and to get these they had to show their 

The ist Army, which was now holding the Bzura due west of 
Warsaw, had been reinforced from the 2nd and 5th Armies. The 
distribution of the three armies between the Vistula and the 
Pilitsa was : 

January -March, 1915 225 

1ST ARMY. Commander: General Lit vino v. Chief of Staff: 

General Odishelidze. 
Vth Siberian Corps. 
VI th Siberian Corps. 
XXVIth Corps. 
Ilnd Caucasian Corps. 
1st Siberian Corps. 
Vlth Corps. 

2ND ARMY. Commander: General Smirnov. Chief of Staff: 

General Kvyetsinski. 
1st Corps. 

Ilnd Siberian Corps. 
IVth Corps. 

5TH ARMY. Commander: General Plehve. Chief of Staff : 

General Miller. 

XXIIIrd Corps. c 

XlXth Corps. ; ' , : 

Vth Corps. ;-.;,: .:... , ,-: 

Fighting Austrians was throughout the war a relaxation to- 
Russian officers after service on the German front. The following 
is an anecdote told at this time illustrative of the domestic type 
of warfare then carried on before Przemysl. An Austrian officer, 
when taken prisoner, asked that he might be allowed to call his 
soldier servant. He was told that there was no objection if he 
could arrange it. He called out from the Russian trenches : 
" O h&, Fritz ! " When Fritz replied, he called out : " Bring 
mein Handgepack ! " After some half an hour Fritz came trotting 
across with his master's portmanteau. 

One day I lunched at the Bristol with Count Nostitz, the Chief 
of Staff of the Guard Corps, and General Erdeli, the Commander 
of the 1 4th Cavalry Division. I asked Erdeli why the Russian 
Cavalry seemed never to " pull its weight." He said the reason 
Novikov, the Commander of the 1st Cavalry Corps, did so little 
to worry the Germans in their retreat from before Warsaw was 
that the Russian cavalry had been held too far back while the 


226 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

infantry battle was in progress. It required about a week to 
cross the lower Bzura and so reach the enemy's flank, and even 
then it found all the crossings of the river higher up, and the roads 
leading across the numerous marshes were held by enemy infantry, 
who effectively prevented any attempt on the lines of communica- 

The I4th Cavalry Division had been continually used in frontal 
operations against the enemy, and in such operations success is 
difficult. Erdeli said that the Higher Command did not know how 
to use cavalry. It should be saved for launching on legitimate 
cavalry tasks. It should only be formed in corps for definite 
temporary objects for instance, the present raid on our extreme 
left in Hungary. Otherwise cavalry divisions should be attached 
to each army. In fact, he recommended that a cavalry brigade 
should be attached to each corps, so that it should always be at 
hand when required for the pursuit of shaken infantry. 

Erdeli related with pride that the I4th Cavalry Division had 
been sufficiently far west to bombard Kalish. 

Some days later I had a talk with a junior officer, Count 
Prjetski, of the Lancers of the Guard, on the same subject. He 
condemned the organisation of the regiment in six squadrons, 
and held that two-squadron regiments would do better work, as 
it is impossible for one colonel to control six squadrons. As 
regards the delaying power of cavalry, to my assertion that 
Novikov's cavalry did not delay the German advance on Warsaw 
a single day, he replied that the Independent Guard Cavalry 
Brigade had held up the Austrian advance at Krasnik in August 
for six hours by dismounted fire, and at Klimontov in October it 
had delayed the Austrians a whole day. The men had their 
horses well under cover and had allowed the enemy's infantry to 
come within 200 yards. Of course, matters differ according to the 
ground, and it is worth remembering that in both the cases he 
quoted the enemy was Austrian and not German. 

Prjetski said that it was difficult for cavalry to achieve much 
in pursuit. " Each squadron and brigade was allotted its own 
' corridor ' to pursue in, and could not make wide detours to 
turn the retreating infantry's flank. Still, the Russian^cavalry 

January -March, 1915 227 

had worried the Austrians considerably in the pursuit after the 
battles at Ivangorod. Austrian prisoners said that they had 
been compelled to entrench twice a day, first to secure quiet for 
the midday meal and again to secure rest at night." This was 
not very convincing. 

As the Guard Corps had been withdrawn to reserve, I obtained 
permission to visit the 5th Army on the Ravka, and left Warsaw 
by automobile on January 6th for the village of Mogilnitsa, where 
the Staff of the army had been since December i8th.* 

The name " Mogilnitsa " has an unpleasant sound in Russian, 
It might mean " a little tomb," but it really means " the place of 
the fogs." Either name might have suited the place, as it ap- 
peared in January, 1915. It consists of a single street of cottages 
in a narrow, damp valley. The weather was atrocious, snow and 
thaw alternating so as to make the roads almost impassable. 

The accommodation of the village was too small to house the 
whole Army Staff, so I found there only the so-called " 1st 
Echelon," consisting of General Plehve and his personal staff, 
the Chief of Staff, General Miller, and the General Quartermaster, 
General Sievers, with his three sections, " Operations," " In- 
telligence ' and " General." 

The Army Commander and his personal staff lodged in the 
priest's house, which was, of course, the best in the village, 
General Miller's house came next, and then a two-roomed cottage, 
which was assigned to me. I slept and worked in the front room, 
and the family and my servant and orderly occupied the room in 
the rear. This rear room accommodated every night eight or 
nine people, viz. : in one bed the mother and one or two grown-up 
daughters, in another bed the father and a son, and on the floor 
Maxim (my servant), Ivan (my orderly) and two farm-labourers. 
The cottage was very clean. Indeed, though I slept in the first 
eighteen months of war on occasion in the poorest Polish peasant's 
cottages, I never suffered from the pests that made night 
uncomfortable when we were driven back later into Russian 

See Map No. IX. 

228 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

territory. Our peasant hosts were always politeness and 
kindness itself, though we must have been a sore trial to 

The Chief of Staff always lunched and dined with the Army 
Commander and his personal staff. The other officers fed in two 
" messes." 

I reported on arrival to General Miller, and found him a small, 
alert man with beard and long brown moustache. Both he and 
General Sievers, who was taller and of a somewhat heavier build, 
were very popular with junior officers. 

It was the Russian Christmas Eve, and Miller invited me to a 
Christmas-tree in his quarters. The tree had been decked out by 
the orderlies with lighted candles, and was hung with everything 
that could possibly serve as an ornament, such as the silver paper 
from chocolates, fancy biscuits, etc. The entertainment had not 
been designed for children, for there were no children there. The 
grown-up officers took a child's delight in the whole proceedings 
as we sat round drinking tea and eating bonbons. 

At midday the following day I went to lunch with General 
Plehve, and he asked me to lunch and sup with him every day 
during my stay at Mogilnitsa. We supped at 6 p.m., and then 
went to a Christmas-tree which had been arranged for the men 
odd men of the Staff and drafts en route for the front. The men 
filed past and each was given a roll of white bread, a bag of tobacco 
and a parcel of sweets. The bags of tobacco contained letters 
written by children in Moscow to the unknown recipients. Each 
man as he received his present thanked the Army Commander, 
first the " show man " roaring out the set phrase in a voice of 
thunder, and then the others, more timid and less drilled, gradu- 
ally diminuendo. Plehve sat and blinked impassively. 

I was introduced to several nurses from a Moscow Red Cross 
hospital which had just arrived at the front. One of them spoke 
English, and they were all nice, innocent little girls. I adjourned 
with them to the quarters of " Nikolai Nikolaievich," the genial 
Commandant of the Staff, and there drank tea while our host sang 
Russian songs to his guitar. 

On other evenings I took tea with General Miller, and I am 

January -March, 1915 229 

afraid bored him with my constant thirst for information. He 
and other Russians were so kind-hearted that they positively 
suffered when they considered it their duty to give evasive replies 
to my leading questions. They always tried to switch the con- 
versation on to the subject of past operations, or information of 
the enemy, when it approached such risky topics as the present 
strength and distribution and armament of the Russian forces or 
the plans for the future of the Russian Command. Later, when 
they got to know me better, the Russians trusted me more. At 
first it was exceedingly up-hill work, though I generally managed 
by one means or another to get more or less " there." 

Though the Russians took an allied liaison officer little into 
their confidence, the officers in general were of so happy-go-lucky 
a nature that the task of enemy spies must have been easy. In 
the Guard Corps I had been refused on one pretext or another 
copies of the daily operation orders, till one day, when taking my 
early morning walk, I found a copy of the previous night's 
operation order lying under a hedge. I carried it back in triumph 
to my friend on the Staff, who found the incident highly amusing, 
and as long as he remained a member of that particular Staff I had 
no further difficulty. 

Plehve was at this time nearly sixty-five. In appearance he 
was a little wizened-up rat, but his intelligence was keen and he 
had an indomitable will. His Staff spoke of him with admiration, 
but it was evident that they feared as much as they loved him. 
They said he had been a nuisance in peace, constantly interfering 
in detail and worrying over trifles, but that in war he was quite 
different, grasping the situation with extraordinary quickness 
and giving his decision rapidly and firmly. He never, to my 
knowledge, visited the trenches, chiefly, no doubt, because, though 
he rode well, he was too infirm for walking. I imagine, too, that 
to him the men at the front were merely pawns. He expected 
everyone there to do his duty, as he, their commander, did, 
by issuing strong and clear instructions from the Staff in rear. 
His strong, dry character, and also, it must be confessed, his 
strong prejudices on occasion regarding individuals, made Plehve 
very unpopular with senior Russian officers, who were before 

230 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

everything human, and could forgive mistakes in strategy sooner 
than a lack of geniality. 

At Mogilnitsa Plehve had seven sentries round his house, 
unlike all other Russian army commanders, who had only the 
usual double sentry at their door. He had piquets dug in on all 
the roads approaching the village. Every afternoon he went 
out for a ride with an escort of twelve Cossacks, and he always 
rode east. 

January i8th was one of the few fine, sunny days I saw while 
at Mogilnitsa. We were all at lunch in Plehve's quarters. An 
A.D.G. had just remarked that we would probably have a visitor, 
when the sentries round the house commenced firing. A big 
German biplane flew slowly three times backwards and forwards 
over the village, and threw a dozen bombs. The airman was no 
doubt aiming at our house, but did not hit it, and most of the 
bombs fell harmlessly. One, however, killed one soldier and 
wounded two men and two horses, and another blew an unfor- 
tunate Polish workman to pieces. All the windows in the Chief 
of Staff's house and the two windows of my room were smashed. 
Within fifteen seconds of the first bomb all Plehve's Staff had 
disappeared to issue orders, first to tell the men not to fire, and 
then to tell them to fire, but really to get away from Plehve, who 
has a trying temper. The old man and I were left alone, he wax- 
ing more and more indignant as each bomb fell. He said such 
conduct was a scandalous breach of the customs of war, and if the 
airman were brought down he would at once hang him up 
to the highest tree in the village. Presently the priest appeared 
from his kitchen and increased the General's wrath by petitioning 
that the sentries should be told to stop firing as they gave away 
the position of the house, which he feared might be destroyed. 

Miller got much of the credit for the uniform success of the 
Plehve-Miller combination, but though Miller was a first-rate 
Chief of Staff, I think Plehve, owing to his unpopularity, got less 
credit than was his due. On more than one occasion I have 
heard Plehve dictating orders to his Chief of Staff. 

In order to see something of the troops I paid visits of three 

January -March, 1915 231 

or four days each to two corps in the 5th Army, the XlXth and 
the IVth. The Staffs of both corps were quartered in Polish 
landowners' houses, that of the XlXth Corps at Kalen and that 
of the IVth Corps, which had just been handed over from the 2nd 
Army, further north at Volya Penkoshevskaya. Both of the 
corps had done well ; the XlXth in particular had already earned 
a reputation that it maintained till the Revolution. 

At Kalen I was lodged in a room with three other officers, and 
General Gorbatovski and his Staff made me at once welcome. 
The General is a fine old soldier of the hard fighting type, who 
had defended one of the sectors at Port Arthur. He was a strong 
optimist in January, 1915, and it was exhilarating if unconvincing 
to hear him maintain that we would thrash the Germans in the 
spring when we had got shell and filled up our ranks. The 
description of him given by "Victor Ivanovich," one of the junior 
officers of the General Staff of the Corps, was interesting. He said 
that Gorbatovski was ' quite unprepared ' ' when he took com- 
mand of the corps, that he used to try to command companies in 
the firing-line instead of directing the whole from the rear. The 
Chief of Staff was too old and weak in character to effect anything. 
' It therefore devolved on us youngsters to educate the Corps 
Commander ! At first we had our work cut out for us, and we 
had constant quarrels, but after a month we could say to each 
other : ' Well, we have trained him now ! ' " 

The XlXth Corps, when quartered in peace at Brest Litovsk, 
Kholm and Kovel had 163 men in each company. It filled up 
on mobilisation with Poles from the neighbourhood of Warsaw 
and with Russians from Volhynia. 

Russian officers always professed to regard the Poles as inferior 
fighters, but I think this is pure prejudice. The corps quartered 
in peace in the Warsaw Military District, which completed to war 
strength from local Polish reservists, gave throughout a better 
account of themselves than corps from the Moscow Military 
District, which drew many reservists from manufacturing centres. 
This was in spite of the fact that the former contained necessarily 
a larger percentage of Jews. 

At Kalen, as elsewhere, there were at once apparent the usual 

232 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

differences between the Russian Staff and their Polish hosts. 
Each side seemed to irritate the other more than was necessary. 

I had a long talk one night with our Polish host. He com- 
plained that the Germans in their offensive had taken from him 
forty out of his sixty horses and had paid him only in bills on 
the Russian Government ! He said that there had never been 
such a tragedy in history as that of the Poles in the present war, 
their fighting-men forced by both sides to fight against their 
brothers, and their civilian population bearing the brunt of all 
the suffering consequent on military operations on their home 
territory. When I was riding away at the end of my visit, this 
man ran upstairs and came back with a parcel of apples as a 
present from his little daughter, with whom I had made friends. 
His wife looked ill. She told me she had only been out once since 
the Staff arrived ; indeed, the habitual disregard of the ordinary 
rules of decent sanitation by the Russian orderlies and Cossacks 
made it difficult for the lady to walk about her own grounds. 

On the other hand, the Russians maintained that the Polish 
landowners made a very good thing out of supply to the troops, 
and that they were never satisfied. They said that our host now 
got 50 kopeks per pud for straw instead of the 25 he would 
have got in peace, and 75 kopeks for hay instead of the usual 30. 
Another landowner not far from Kalen had claimed Rs. 175,000 
for damage done to his forests, but a committee after impartial 
enquiry, assessed the sum due at Rs.39,ooo. 

Russians are always annoyed that Poles regard them as 
foreigners. Our hostess one night said that after the war she 
would no longer go to German watering-places, but only to French 
and English ones. A Russian officer remarked afterwards that 
the lady seemed to have forgotten the existence of the Caucasian 

German propaganda was already busy in trying to corrupt 
the Russian rank and file. Its methods, however, were not 
always distinguished by intelligence. In one instance a German 
flag was planted halfway between the opposing trenches. By it 
was a bottle of wine, a loaf of bread and a piece of bacon, with a 
proclamation calling on all Mohammedans to join the Holy War 

January-March, 1915 233 

which Turkey had proclaimed in alliance with the " oft-tried 
friends of Islam Germany and Austria." The German arguments 
were as little likely to appeal to the Russian Tartar as the wine 
and bacon forbidden by the Prophet, and, moreover, there were 
no Tartars in the XlXth Corps. Another proclamation, which 
was accompanied by wine and cigarettes, pointed out that the 
Tsar had not wanted war, and that the Russian soldiers were 
being sacrificed by the Grand Duke, who had been bribed by 
France and England ! 

Each day while with the Corps Staffs I rode out to visit one of 
the divisions, including some unit in the trenches. One day, for 
instance, I visited the I7th Division of the XlXth Corps. I 
found it had four battalions of two regiments in line with the 
remaining four battalions in regimental reserve. Three other 
battalions of the division were at the disposal of the Divisional 
Commander and were sent forward at night to be near the line. 
The remaining five battalions had been lent temporarily to another 

The eastern bank of the Ravka commands the western bank, 
which was occupied by the enemy. The river is marshy and only 
fordable in places. The opposing lines were generally about 1,000 
yards apart. 

In the iyth Division I visited the 68th Borodino Regiment, 
the commander of which had just received a message of good 
wishes from the 68th Durham Light Infantry, and asked me to 
send a suitable reply on his behalf. This regiment had lost up to 
date nine officers killed and forty-five wounded, and 3,000 men 
killed and wounded. 

The men were usually two days in the trenches and two in 
reserve, but the company I saw had volunteered to remain in the 
trenches for twenty-four days, as it had " made itself comfort- 
able." It was not, however, evident what efforts it had made in 
twenty-four days to make itself either comfortable or safe. The 
communication trenches were far too shallow. There were no 
shell-proof dug-outs. Similarly in the IVth Corps, the construction 
of the trenches left much to be desired, considering that the 
troops had been thirty-five days on the same position. It was 

234 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

the same story everywhere ; many officers were too lazy to make 
the men work. They forgot that nothing breeds discontent like 

In the IVth Corps the line was strongly held, one division of 
sixteen battalions having only six versts of front. This corps 
contained two divisions, and the arrangement was that four 
regiments (sixteen battalions) held the front line with supports 
and reserves. A regiment was divisional reserve in each division, 
and two regiments formed the corps reserve, one regiment being 
placed in rear of each division, but both being retained at the 
disposal of the corps commander. 

A third of the artillery was lying in reserve, there being no 
use for it at the front owing to the shortage of shell. Batteries 
in action were well concealed, and had suffered practically no 
casualties, though they had occupied the same positions for over 
a month. 

The IVth Corps, which is Skobelev's old corps, was now 
commanded by General Aliev, a Mohammedan from the Caucasus. 

While with the IVth Corps I heard that Plehve had " received 
another appointment," and had been succeeded in command of 
the 5th Army by General Churin. On January 25th I returned 
to the Staff, which had moved east to Mala Ves, a large house 
belonging to Prince Lyubomirski. Russian officers maintained a 
desperate secrecy regarding Plehve's new task, but my servant, 
Maxim, heard from a gendarme that he had gone to form a new 
1 2th Army. I gathered from a Serb officer that this army was 
intended to operate in the direction of and beyond Mlava, the 
infantry being used as a mobile base to support a large force of 
cavalry sent forward to raid in East Prussia. There was very 
evidently ' nothing doing ' in the 5th Army, so I returned to 
Warsaw on the following day, in order to try to arrange to be 
attached to Plehve. 

I found him and Miller in a train at Warsaw station. They 
said they would be delighted to take me if I got permission from 
G.H.Q. I therefore telegraphed to General Danilov, the General 
Quartermaster at G.H.Q. : " I ask for permission to go for a 
time to the Staff of the I2th Army." On the 2Qth came the 

January -March, 1915 235 

reply : The granting of your request is at present impossible." 
I had made a blunder, but how was I to tell that the formation 
of a new army, which was common property in Warsaw and at 
Petrograd, was regarded as a secret in the fir-woods at Bara- 
novichi ? I heard later that the innocent Staff of the 5th Army 
was reprimanded for having given the matter away ! Meanwhile 
I decided to return to the Guard, and rejoined it on February 6th, 
when its Staff reached Warsaw. 

General Oranovski, who had been Chief of the Staff of the 
North-West Front since the beginning of the war, was now 
appointed to command a cavalry corps in the I2th Army. He was 
succeeded on General Ruzski's Staff by General Gulevich, who had 
been Chief of Staff of the Petrograd Military District before the 
war and since mobilisation Chief of Staff of the gth Army. Gule- 
vich was very clever and a man of charming manners, but lazy 
in fact, " a gross, fat man," who had put on much flesh since the 
war started, for he " rested " in bed daily from 2 to 5 p.m. and 
never took any exercise. It is said that he was present when the 
telegram informing him of his new appointment was deciphered. 
Russians use the same word for " chief " in " chief of the staff ' 
and for ' commander ' in, for instance, ' commander of a 
division." When the words " Gulevich is appointed Comman- 
der " were deciphered, he held his head with his hands in despair, 
for he had a horror of the comparatively active life he would 
have been forced to lead as the commander of a division. He was 
greatly relieved when the context revealed the nature of his new 
appointment, and at once gave orders for a thanksgiving service. 
My cynical informant added that few officers attended this service, 
for they had all rushed off to scribble memoranda for the General's 
guidance of the honours and rewards they wished to receive. 

The German Command was now about to launch its offensive 
against the Russian loth Army in East Prussia. This was 
prepared by preliminary attacks. First there was severe fighting 
in the Carpathians, and it was for some time thought that the 
m ain enemy offensive was there. 

The Russian forces on the South- West Front at this time were 

236 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

distributed from right to left in five armies, 4th, gth, 3rd, 8th 
and nth. 

From the middle Pilitsa to Gorlice along the front of the 4th, 
9th and 3rd Armies things were comparatively quiet. 

The following anecdote came from the 4th Army. The 
Commander, General Ewarth, had been ordered by General Ivanov 
to retire from the Pilitsa if the river froze. Ewarth sent a party 
of sappers to destroy a long dam which made freezing more 
probable. This party was at work at night preparing the lodge- 
ments for the explosives when it was alarmed by suspicious noises 
on the opposite bank. Tools were thrown down and rifles seized, 
but reconnaissance revealed the fact that the enemy was at the 
same game. Apparently they lived in terror of a Russian advance 
in this sector^ of the front, and also wished to prevent the Pilitsa 
from freezing. It is said that both sides blew up sections after dawn. 
So the Pilitsa did not freeze and both Generals slept in peace. 

The 8th Army had assumed an offensive and gained some 
success on the line of the Dukla and Mezo-Laborcz Passes. On 
the other hand, the enemy's forces attacking the detachments 
of the nth Army which held the debouches from the Uzsok, 
Munkacs and Yasinya Passes considerably outnumbered the 
columns of Generals Ecke, Alftan and Webel, and caused them 
to give ground. Two divisions of the 7th Army from Odessa 
which were to have carried out the " invasion of Transylvania ' 
had also been forced back. 

To this section from Uzsok to Kirlebaba Hindenburg sent 
reinforcements from his centre in Trans- Vistula Poland. The 
Russians, foreseeing the danger, despatched the XXI Ind Corps 
from the loth Army, and this corps passed through Lvov to join 
the 8th Army at the beginning of February. The transfer was 
supposed to be kept a secret, but the men of the corps on arrival 
in the Carpathians found placards in the German trenches 
inscribed : " Welcome to the XXIInd Corps." 

The XXIInd Corps was followed by the XVth, originally 
intended to form part of the new I2th Army, and soon to return 
to the North- West Front to join the loth Army. 

Including the XXIInd Corps, but excluding the Army 

January -March, 1915 237 

blockading Przemysl, the Russians had forty-five divisions on the 
whole front from Pilitsa to the frontier of Rumania, and were 
opposed by, it was calculated, fifty-two enemy divisions, including 
about eight and a half German. 

Strong German reconnaissances west of Warsaw on January 
agth and 30th developed on the following three days into a real 
attack on a ten-verst front at the junction of the ist and 2nd 
Armies. The Germans collected 400 guns and attacked in dense 
columns seven divisions on a front of six and two-thirds miles. 
The attack was prepared by the use of gas, and the Russians were 
at first forced back, but they counter-attacked at dawn on 
February 3rd and won back all the ground previously lost. The 
Russian losses, mainly in the counter-attack, were estimated at 
40,000, chiefly in the Ist Siberian and Vlth Corps, but the 
German losses were also spoken of as " enormous " in fact, the 
battle was characterised as - " a regular Borodino." 

Ludendorff claims that this attack was a demonstration in 
order to tie down the Russian ist and 2nd Armies. If this is 
true, the demonstration was quite unnecessary, for the Russian 
Command had no idea of the danger impending in East Prussia. 

The Guard Corps was ordered to concentrate at Warsaw on 
the night of February 8th. The following night it was handed 
over to the Commander-in-Chief of the North- West Front, and 
by him ordered to entrain for Lomja. 

The official communique of February nth stated : " The 
concentration of very considerable German forces in East Prussia 
has been definitely established. They are taking the offensive 
principally in the direction of Vilkovishki and Lyck. The 
presence of new formations transported from Central Germany is 
noted. Our troops are retiring fighting from the Masurian Lakes 
to the region of our frontiers." 

The Guard commenced entraining at 6 p.m. on February loth. 
By noon on the I4th the ist Division only had arrived at Lomja, 
twelve versts in advance of the point of detrainment. The 
two and a half divisions completed their concentration at Lomja 
by the night of the i6th. 

238 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

I motored from Warsaw with the Staff of the corps on the 
I3th. Rodzianko and I were allotted an excellent room in the 
Imperial Bank. This room had, however, been the nursery, and 
the director of the bank had married a second wife, who, un- 
fortunately for us, was not a good step-mother. The beds were 
alive with bugs, but Rodzianko, after much fussing, got the beds 
of the director and his wife, which were clean. The personnel of 
the bank had left for Vladimir on the Volga in the first days of 
mobilisation, but though Lomja is only forty-five versts from the 
frontier, it had not yet been touched by the enemy. 

February I4th was a gloriously sunny day, and an enemy air- 
man flew over Lomj a and dropped a few bombs. We had no aero- 
planes, so were hopelessly ignorant of the situation in our front 
and even in the loth Army. The Corps Commander sent a 
General Staff officer to Osovets to obtain what news he could, and 
this officer returned on the morning of the i5th with some account 
of the disaster that had befallen the loth Army. His story as 
repeated to me was vague. Gradually something like the truth 
filtered out, and I have pieced the following narrative together 
from extracts from my Diary. 1 

With the exception of a small detachment north-east of Tilsit, 
the loth Army in Eastern Prussia occupied on February 7th a 
long-drawn-out line from west of Pillkallen, by east of Gumbinnen, 
east of Darkehmen, east of Angerburg and east of Lotzen to 

The army was commanded by General Sievers, with Baron 
Budberg as his Chief of Staff. The Staff was at Grodna. 

The Illrd Corps (73rd and 56th Divisions) lay north-east of 
Gumbinnen. The XXth Corps (27th, 29th, 53rd and 28th 
Divisions) east of Darkehmen, the XXVIth Corps (84th and 64th 
Divisions) east of Angerburg and Lotzen. The Illrd Siberian 
Corps (7th Siberian and 8th Siberian Divisions) continued the 
line to opposite Nikolaiken. The 57th Division was detached at 

The front held by units was extended; for instance, each 

i See Map No. VII, 

January-March, 1915 239 

division of the Illrd Corps held nineteen versts (twelve and two- 
thirds miles) The position, however, had been prepared for 
defence, and there was a secondary position running through 

The first information of the German concentration in East 
Prussia was received on February 4th. The heavy guns from 
Osovets which had been moved forward to bombard Lotzen were 
at once retired. 

On February 7th the 57th Division was driven back from 
Johannisburg by a force estimated at one and a half corps. It 
made a stand at Raigrod and suffered heavily, losing its guns. 
The remnants of the division cut their way through with the 
bayonet to Osovets. 

The main attack by Eichhorn's German loth Army com- 
menced on the afternoon of February 8th, and first struck the 
Illrd Corps, which was then actually carrying out an extended 
outflanking movement with the object of turning the defences of 
Gumbinnen from the north and north-west. The Illrd Corps 
retired rapidly, leaving only two battalions on the right of the 
XXth Corps. The 73rd Division lost heavily probably all 
guns and transport in its retreat towards Kovna. The pursuing 
Germans captured two troop trains east of the frontier town of 
Verjbolovo. The 56th Division reached Olita comparatively 

It is said that the two battalions of the Illrd Corps retired 
without warning the Commander of the XXth Corps. It is at all 
events certain that this corps was suddenly and unexpectedly 
fired upon from the rear. 

The XXth, XXVIth and Illrd Siberian Corps retired from 
the line Darkehmen-Nikolaiken through Suvalki and Avgustov, 
wheeling to their right in the retreat to the general line Grodna- 
Dombrova. The Illrd Siberian Corps was protected in its retreat 
by the lakes, but the other two corps suffered severely from the 
superior mobility and enterprise of the Germans. 

It fell to the lot of the XXth Corps to cover the retirement 
through the Avgustov woods. While the remains of the XXVIth 
and Illrd Siberian Corps had cleared the wood by February I5th, 

240 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

and had reached the line Grodna-Dombrova by February I7th, 
there was long doubt regarding the fate of the XXth Corps. 

The great mass of the Germans estimated at first at six 
corps, but later at three and a half corps had wheeled to the 
right in a crushing pursuit of the Russian corps, throwing mean- 
while cavalry out on their left flank towards the Nyeman. 

The line selected for the retreat of Sievers' Army showed how 
thoroughly it had been beaten. Its right was to rest on the 
defences of the fortress of Grodna and its left on the Bobr marshes. 
Everything was withdrawn from the 120 versts stretch of railway 
from Vilna to Grodna, with the exception of the units of the Illrd 
Corps at Olita. 

There was a report that German cavalry was passing the 
Nyeman, but this was unconfirmed. German cavalry, however, 
pursued the loth Army as far as Lipsk, north of Dombrova. 

The 27th Division and three regiments of the 53rd Division, 
when between Goldap and Suvalki, lost touch with the remainder 
of the Army. They fought in the Avgustov Forest till February 
22nd and then surrendered, all their ammunition being exhausted. 

A German news-sheet captured on a prisoner on March 6th 
estimated the enemy booty at one corps commander, two division 
commanders and four other generals, 100,000 other prisoners 
and 150 guns. It claimed that the Russian loth Army had been 
" annihilated." Later enemy accounts raised the estimate to 
110,000 prisoners, 300 guns and 200 machine-guns, and there is 
no reason to think that even this is an exaggeration. 

The rapidity of retreat of the Illrd Corps pointed to a panic 
in the 2nd Line divisions. Yepanchin, the Commander, was 

The German offensive was carried through in terrible weather, 
violent snowstorms alternating with thaws that made the roads 
most difficult. It was said that the Russian columns in retreating 
trampled down the snow and so made matters easier for the 
pursuing Germans. Still, the enemy must have had great 
difficulty in feeding his guns with ammunition, and in this respect 
the Russians would have had an enormous advantage if only all 
their troops had shown fight. Under the weather conditions the 

January -March, 1915 241 

German advance would have been impossible if large quantities 
of Russian food supplies had not been captured. 

The Russian Command can have had no prepared scheme for 
covering the retreat, and the staff work must have been execrable. 
This was the worst thing since Tannenburg. General Bezo- 
brazov often said that Russia could never be beaten unless her 
army was destroyed. Here we had lost two or more corps and 
irreplaceable guns and rifles. 

General Sievers and his Chief of Staff, Baron Budberg, were 
replaced by General Radkevich from the XXVIth Corps with 
General Popov as Chief of Staff. 

While the loth Army was still fighting its way back, the 
situation further west, as the Guard was arriving at Lomja, was 
as follows : 1 

Osovets was defended by Opolchenie and the remains of the 
57th Division, soon to be reinforced by a regiment of the Ilnd 

A line drawn through Shchuchin and Byelostok separated the 
left of the loth Army from the right of the 12th Army, then 
beginning to concentrate. 

At Vizna the passage over the Narev was held by a regiment 
of the ist Caucasian Rifle Brigade, which was detached from the 
Ilnd Caucasian Corps and had detrained on January I2th. The 
other three regiments with their two mountain batteries had 
marched north-west to Kolno. 

South-west of Kolno, the ist Independent Cavalry Brigade 
under General Benderev, a Bulgarian whom I had known before 
the war, held an extended line facing north-west. 

The 5th Rifle Brigade was north of Ostrolenka, and further 
west the 4th Cavalry Division reconnoitred as far as the River 
Or jits. 

The Ist Turkistan Corps had been since the beginning of 
December in occupation of an extended line through Prasnish 
and Tsyekhanov, blocking the approaches from Mlava. On its 
left the 76th Division (XXVIIth Corps) in the neighbourhood of 

1 See Map No. IX. 


242 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

Drobin was in support of Erdeli's cavalry (i4th Division and 4th 
Don Cossack Division). Further south-west, in advance of 
Plotsk, Oranovski's Cavalry Corps (i5th, 6th and 8th Divisions) 
supported by the 77th Division (XXVIIth Corps), was in 
touch with the enemy. 

Ludendorf writes of the " Fortress of Lomja," and all German 
maps show fortresses at Lomja, Ostrolenka and Rojan. As a 
matter of fact, the permanent works at these places were valueless. 
Those at Lomja, though of comparatively recent construction 
1900-1903 were so near the bridgehead as to be useless. 

During the war fieldworks had been constructed along the 
Narev at Ostrolenka, Rojan and Pultusk. Osovets was in a 
strong natural position, both of its flanks being defended by 
marshes, and Novo Georgievsk was considered a first-class 

There were three Opolchenie brigades on the line of the Narev ; 
the 8th guarded the passages at Vizna and Lomja ; the 4th Bri- 
gade was at Ostrolenka and Rojan ; and the i8th was at Pultusk 
and Serotsk. 

The staff of the I2th Army moved from Naselsk to Ostrov on 
February I5th, and thence to Lomja on the 27th. Its task was 
understood to be to cover the defences of the Narev, and eventu- 
ally, when force permitted, to embark on a decisive offensive in 
conjunction with the loth Army. 

On the 1 5th Plehve issued some tactical instructions by 
telegram. He laid down that in the operations about to com- 
mence the troops were on no account to be scattered in small 
groups. In order to follow with their own eyes the course of 
the operations, all commanders, with the possible exception 
of corps commanders, were to be present on the field in action 
instead of remaining in houses where the situation could 
only be judged of from reports and maps. Attacks were to be 
carried out by brigades or by divisions. Both during the advance 
into action and in action itself the echelon formation was to be 
made frequent use of. In action formations in depth were 

A defensive position was selected and prepared at a distance of 

January -March, 1915 243 

twelve versts to the north-east of Lomja, and covering the ap- 
proaches from Shchuchin and Kolno. 

The IVth Siberian Corps completed its concentration at 
Ostrolenka on the night of the 1/ The ist Guard Infantry 
Division occupied Staviski north-east of Lomja with an advanced 
guard. The 2nd Guard Infantry Division moved forward on its 
right, and on the I7th the Guard Rifle Brigade moved into billets 
in reserve south-west of the ist Division. 

No news of importance came from the front. The enemy was 
reported to have only small stopping detachments of the three 
arms blocking roads of possible advance to the north from the 
Narev. He was stated, however, to be throwing troops across the 
Vistula at Plotsk from the left or southern to the right or northern 

General Khimets with the Cavalry School Division received 
orders to raid into East Prussia, but after expecting great things 
for some days, we were told that he " could not find a way through 
the barbed wire." Eighteen months later in Bukovina I was 
given another account of this " raid " by an officer who had taken 
part in it. There was no barbed wire whatsoever. 

Khimets left his billets at Shumsk, l north-west of Prasnish, 
at 8 a.m. on February I2th. He reached Ednorojets at II p.m., 
halted there two hours and then continued his advance to the 
north. He left five squadrons of Cossacks at Laz to cover his 
retreat and crossed the frontier east of Khorjele, dispersing a 
German piquet. He arrived at Montvitz, about three versts 
north of the frontier, at 8.30 a.m. with the remainder of his force, 
consisting of five squadrons of Finland Dragoons, three squadrons 
of the Cavalry School Regiment, three squadrons of Cossacks, 
four guns and twelve machine-guns. 

When fired on from trenches south of Montvitz, he dismounted 
his men, called up his guns and commenced an attack according 
to the drill book. He wasted his time in this attack though he 
only lost seven men till 1.30 p.m., when information was 
received that the enemy had moved infantry from Khorjele and 

1 See Map. No. VIII. 

244 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

Zarembe to cut his line of retreat. He cut his way back with the 
loss of two officers and forty-five more men and two ammunition 
wagons that were overturned. 

Khimets' task was to keep moving, and he deliberately 
wasted five hours ; he could easily have ridden round Montvitz 
and have reached Willenberg. With such leaders it was not 
surprising that with all our mass of splendid cavalry we were 
unable to cut a single line in East Prussia. Of course, Erdeli 
and Oranovski were in a cul-de-sac. If they could have dis- 
engaged and moved north they might have effected something. 

General Bezobrazov was opposed to any idea of an advance 
into East Prussia. He said to me on February i5th : "I call 
you to witness that I say it is folly to advance into East Prussia 
unless all our armies are moving forward simultaneously on all 

My Diary of this date contains the following : 

The views of Bezobrazov and Nostitz on the strategy 
of the campaign are amusingly at variance. Bezobrazov 
holds that the invasion of Silesia is an absolute necessity. 
Nostitz is strongly of opinion that we should never have 
wandered towards Silesia, but should have placed a screen 
against Austria and have concentrated all our strength 
against East Prussia. " The taking of Konigsberg would 
have had far more effect than the taking of Przemysl." He 
would now, if he were Gommander-in-Chief , bring Radko 
back from the Dunajec to the Wist oca and would transfer 
the 4th Army to attack the Germans in the Suvalki Govern- 

There may be arguments for the German line of advance 
and arguments for the Austrian line of attack, but there 
can be no arguments for the double divergent line. The 
Russian proverb says : "If you pursue two hares you 
won't catch either." Of course it is the fault of Ivanov 
and Alexyeev that we pursue the Austrian hare so per- 
sistently ; they think that we can knock the Austrian 
army definitely out. I am convinced that we will never be 

January -March, 1915 245 

able to do so as long as the East Prussian salient remains 
with its highly-developed railway system on our right." 

On February i6th orders were received for a general regroup- 
ment of the troops on the North- West Front. l 

The I2th Army (Plehve) to occupy the front from the line 
Shchuchin-Byelostok to Rojan on the Narev ; the ist Army 
(Lit vino v) from Rojan to the lower Vistula. 

The 2nd Army (Smirnov) and the 5th Army (Ghurin) to divide 
the front from the lower Vistula to the Pilitsa. 

The i2th Army was to contain the Guard Corps, IVth Siberian 
Corps, ist Caucasian Rifle Brigade, 5th Rifle Brigade, the Guard 
Cossack Cavalry Brigade, the ist Independent Cavalry Brigade, 
the 2nd and 4th Cavalry Divisions, in all five and a half infantry 
and three cavalry divisions. 

The ist Army was to include the XlXth Corps, which com- 
menced crossing to the right bank of the Vistula at Novo Geor- 
gievsk on the I7th, the XXVIIth Corps (63rd and 76th Divisions), 
the Ist Turkistan Corps (ist and 3rd Turkistan Brigades, nth 
Siberian Division, and 77th Division), the Ussuri Cavalry Division, 
Khimets' Cavalry Division, Erdeli's Cavalry Detachment (i4th 
Division and 4th Don Cossack Division), and Oranovski's Cavalry 
Corps (6th, 8th and I5th Cavalry Divisions), in all seven infantry 
and seven cavalry divisions. 

These armies, as well as the loth Army, then straggling back 
to the defences of Grodna, were to be reinforced by several corps 
drawn from the trans- Vistula armies, but at the moment there 
was much indecision regarding the plan of operations. I learned 
later that G.H.Q., fearing that the Germans would cross the 
upper Nyeman and cut our main line of communications, favoured 
the transfer of reinforcements to the area east of Grodna, while 
General Ruzski and the staff of the North- West Front insisted on 
the adequacy of the reinforcement of the line of the Narev. 

This indecision in the seats of the mighty naturally caused 
confusion in humbler spheres. 

At lunch on the i6th Count Nostitz told me that orders had 

Map No. IX, 

246 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

been received on the previous night for the Guard Corps to 
advance, its place at Lomja to be taken by the IVth Siberian 
Corps. These orders had been almost immediately counter- 
manded and General Bezobrazov had been summoned to Ostrov 
to confer with Plehve. He left at i p.m. by car. 

The same afternoon, during the General's absence at Ostrov, 
General Benderev, who was directing the operations of the three 
Caucasian rifle regiments at Kolno in addition to commanding 
the ist Independent Cavalry Brigade, telephoned that he was 
being attacked by superior forces and asked for help. Nostitz 
ordered the ist Division of the Guard to send forward one regi- 
ment from Staviski towards Kolno. 

The General, on return from Ostrov, told me that the Guard 
was to concentrate at Byelostok by road. 

It was evident that it would not be an easy operation to 
withdraw from immediate contact with the enemy. 

Benderev retired from Kolno on the i6th and took up a line 
further south, where his right was continued by the Izmailovski 
and Yegerski Regiments, with the Semenovski Regiment in 
echelon on the left of the Izmailovski, and the Preobrajenski Regi- 
ment in echelon at Staviski on the right of the Yegerski. 

Diary of February iyth : 

I found Nostitz in bed this morning with a cold. 
He got up later for lunch. When I went into his room 
strange noises were issuing from his bed, and at first I 
thought that he was seriously ill, but soon discovered that 
it was only his gruntling little dog, any reference to which 
he always prefaces with the remark : " J'adore mon 

Nostitz was studying a book which gave the compara- 
tive strength of the British and German navies, and I 
found it very hard to make him take an interest in what was 
going on around us. We were interrupted by a staff officer 
who came in to announce that the commander of the 
Izmailovski Regiment had been wounded. When he 
retired, we once more resumed our discussion on the 

January -March, 1915 247 

strength of the fleets. Nostitz said that finding Russia 
in alliance with Great Britain Russia with a poor puny 
fleet and Great Britain with an immense one made him, 


a Russian, feel like a poor provincial gentleman who awoke 
one day to the realisation of the possession of enormous 

Nostitz is a very interesting character. He writes 
everything to his wife. Generally he is writing to her, but 
he has other relaxations. One day I found him reading a 
French book, Quelques Pages de la Vie d'une Diplomate d 
Teheran. This when the guns were distinctly audible. 
I told Engelhardt that I was glad to have met Nostitz, 
for no staff officer of such a type would appear in any 
future campaign. He said : ' And thank God for that." 

One day we discussed the causes of war and the best 
means of preventing war in future. Nostitz's suggestion 
was simple and I doubt if the united wisdom of the world's 
statesmen will ever produce anything more effective. He 
said that immediately following a declaration of war the 
Prime Ministers and Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the belli- 
gerent countries should be compelled to join the army, 
" not staffs but infantry regiments at the front." 

He is a very kind-hearted and charming man of the 
world, as well as a man of wide reading, but he is out of 
place as Chief of Staff of a Corps. 

The Commander of the Izmailovski Regiment was shot 
in the left elbow and right hand by explosive bullets this 
morning, and his left arm has been amputated. It is 
said that 100 Germans made their way round or through 
the line of piquets, and fired through the window of the 
house in which he was sleeping. The Grand Duke Kon- 
stantin Konstantinovich was in the same cottage. The 
commander sprang to his feet and seized a stool to fling at 
the Germans. It looks as if the regiment had arrived late 
last night and had not troubled to put out piquets. 
Warfare against the Austrians is a bad school. 

248 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

It is thought that the troops advancing from Kolno and 
Shchuchin against our ist Division and the Caucasian 
Rifles are a division of the XXth Corps. Another division 
is said to be billeted to-night at Shchuchin, and a strong 
column with forty heavy guns is advancing along the road 
from Shchuchin to Osovets. 

The 2nd Guard Infantry Division and the Guard Rifle 
Brigade have started to march to Byelostok. 

Bezobrazov sent off a galloper to order the G.O.G. ist 
Division to retire to the previously prepared position north 
of the junction of the Kolno and Shchuchin roads. This 
order was reported by wire to Plehve, who ordered that 
the ist Division was not to retire a yard, but must first 
drive back the enemy by attacking him in front and 
flank and pursue him ; it was not to worry about being 
relieved, as the enemy had first to be driven back. 

Rodzianko raised Cain this afternoon when in the course 
of a walk we came on a long line of carts full of wounded, 
who were freezing in the bitter cold while they waited their 
turn to be carried into hospital. The local Jews crowded 
round with gaping curiosity, but it did not occur to them 
till we suggested it that they might help by fetching tea 
and bread. R. got volunteers to help to carry, but the 
hospital had only two stretchers. An old Polish woman 
behaved like a brick. I saw her crying as she took the 
shawl from her head to wrap round a wounded man who 
complained of the cold. Later some women came to 
volunteer to help, and girls brought cigarettes and apples 
to the men in the hospital. They all worked Jew and 
Gentile when shown how they could help. After all, it 
would be a poor country where the women were not right 
at heart ! Inside the hospital, the Government Police 
Court, all was being done that was possible. The men were 
lying crowded but on clean mattresses, with clean blankets, 
and the rooms were well heated. 

Later in the Staff R. found a young officer by way of 

January -March, 1915 


' examining ' three German prisoners. He was doing 
Engelhardt's work as Corps Intelligence Officer during the 
latter's absence at the Imperial Duma. The cross- 
examination, which should be carried out by a good 
German scholar with a barrister's acuteness, was, as 
usual, being conducted haphazard. Bridge was in pro- 
gress in the next room and " Dummy ' always strolled 
in and tried his German on the prisoner, the same questions 
being asked many times. These people play at war. As 
R. said, it makes one furious a favourite expression of his 
to think of the poor devils in the hospitals who have given 
their all, their health and their limbs, for their country, 
while the cause is being sacrificed by such childishness in 

People in the staff are nervous to-night. I imagine 
Domanevski's temper is proving a thorn to some of the 
junior officers. 

Thursday, February iSth, 1915. LOMJA. 

Bezobrazov this morning quoted : " Ordre, contre- 
ordre, desordre." He said that in a single hour he had 
received four contradictory orders from the Staff of the 
Army. He thinks this is not so much the fault of the 
Army as of Danilov at G.H.Q. 

It appears that at eleven last night Bezobrazov replied 
to Plehve that he had already ordered the retirement of 
the ist Guard Division on the prepared position at Sipnevo, 
that the movement was actually being carried out and that 
he would assume full responsibility for his action. A 
telegram received from Plehve at i a.m. placed the troops 
between the Bobr and the Pissa under Bezobrazov's orders, 
and directed him to order the return of the 2nd Guard 
Division and the Guard Rifle Brigade from Byelostok to 
Lomja. The position at Sipnevo is to be occupied 
merely temporarily as a preliminary to the resumption of 
the offensive. 

The unfortunate 2nd Division which marched fifty-two 

250 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

versts yesterday and the Rifle Brigade, which covered 
forty-five, are to retrace their steps to-day. 

On the afternoon of the i8th, Benderev retired still further, 
but an attempt to turn his left flank was forestalled by the gth 
Siberian Division, which crossed at Novogrod and relieved the 
Caucasian Brigade on the night of the i8th. 

The 2nd Guard Division and the Guard Rifle Brigade returned 
through Lomja on the morning of the igth. The 2nd Division 
moved north-east to near Yedvabno, while the Guard Rifle 
Brigade returned to its former billets north of Lomja. 

General Bezobrazov prepared to carry out his orders to 
attack on the morning of the 20th. As he had two corps cf first- 
class troops the IVth Siberian Corps had not yet been actively 
engaged it was hoped that he would punish the Germans, whose 
strength was estimated at two divisions only. 

February zoth, 1915. LOMJA. 

Rodzianko and I rode at 9 a.m. up the Shchuchin road 
to the centre of our front to see the attack. Artillery fire 
was impossible till noon, owing to the mist. 

The Corps Orders were simple and to the point, but 
their issue had been delayed by the failure of the 9th 
Siberian Division to report. It had been found necessary 
to send a General Staff officer to the left flank to see 
how matters stood, and this officer did not return till 

A copy of Corps Orders was despatched by telegraph at 
1.42 a.m., but is stated by the divisional staff of the ist 
Division to have been received only at 3 a.m. A manu- 
script copy was sent, not by an officer but by a Cossack, 
whom managed to lose it en route ! 

The Divisional Orders are dated 5 a.m., but in the staff 
of the Preobrajenski Regiment I was told that they were 
received at 7.15 a.m., a telephone message having been 
received earlier to send an officer to fetch them. 

There seems to be a good deal of slackness and want of 

January -March, 1915 251 

bundobust here. The Divisional Orders go straight to the 
regiment and not to a brigade, unless the brigade has a 
separate task assigned to it. The Russian regiment is 
equal in bayonets to the British infantry brigade, and the 
adjutant requires time to write his orders. In this case 
the delay was of no importance as regards the ist Guard 
Division, as that Division had been told to delay its advance 
pending the development of the attack of the 2nd Guard 
Division on its right. 

In the Corps Orders the general idea was for the 2nd 
Division to attack the enemy's left and for the forward 
movement then to be taken up all along the line. The 
village of Yedvabno, which had been abandoned somewhat 
hurriedly by the Guard Cossacks on the previous evening, 
was the 2nd Division's first objective. As the cemetery 
in this village was found to be " strongly fortified," the 
whole advance was delayed and the " attack " came to 
nothing. It seems impossible that the Germans had time 
to render this place impregnable in a single night. The 
loss ii officers and 360 men in the Grenaderski Regiment 
should not have frightened the G.O.G. 2nd Division. The 
Germans will use to-night to dig themselves in, if not to 
bring up reinforcements, and we will only eventually drive 
them back at heavy cost. We will probably repeat here 
the performance of Ivangorod, i.e., the enemy will play 
with us and retire when he thinks good. 

I managed to get a copy of the orders issued by the 
ist Division. The front of the Division was divided into 
four sections of the following strength, each section being 
commanded by a regiment commander : 

(1) 2 battalions, 8 guns, i section of sappers. 

(2) 4 battalions, 16 guns, i company of sappers. 

(3) 4 battalions, 16 guns, half company of sappers. 

(4) 2 battalions, 6 guns, half company of sappers. 
Each section commander was allotted a " corridor," or 

zone, in which to advance. 

The divisional reserve was grouped in two detachments 

252 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

respectively four and two versts in rear of the right and 
left centre. Each regiment retained in sectional reserve 
about 25 per cent, of its strength. 

We found the O.G. Preobrajenski Regiment had moved 
forward to an artillery observation point immediately in 
rear of the line of trenches. This point was linked by 
telephone with the regimental headquarters in rear. Regi- 
mental headquarters were linked with battalions, and each 
battalion commander was linked with his company com- 

The Preobrajenski Regiment has, however, probably 
more telephone material than any regiment in the Russian 
army, for since the beginning of the war it has spent 
Rs. 8,600 (about 800) on apparatus out of regimental 
funds. Instead of the Government allowance of nine 
instruments and ten versts (six and two-thirds miles) of 
line, the regiment now possesses forty instruments and 
fifty-four versts (thirty-six miles) of line. 

The G.O.G. gih Siberian Division moved his right 
regiment forward at 4 p.m. to attack the village of Mali 
Plotsk. He was driven back, losing practically two whole 
battalions. He at once expended his whole divisional 
reserve, though the remaining three regiments of the 
division had hardly been under fire. The Caucasian 
Brigade has been sent back to form a reserve to the 

The situation grew uncomfortable again. We had hoped for 
a day or two of initiative, but the attempt at attack had been a 
miserable failure. The General had long conversations with 
engineers regarding positions for passive defence. The I2th 
Army was to remain on its present line for over five months. 

On the 2ist a new German brigade Von Einem's was 
identified on our right. West of this lay in succession the 3rd 
Reserve Division, Jacobi's Landwehr Division and the 4ist 
Division of the XXth Corps. 

Domanevski suggested sending two regiments of our general 

January -March, 1915 253 

reserve to attack in extension of our right, but the General would 
not hear of it. 

The G.O.G. gth Siberian Division soon exhausted his new corps 
reserve, the Caucasian Rifles, and telephoned that he had no 
general reserve and was in a " difficult position." 

On the 23rd the General told me that both our flanks were in 

The shortage of shell caused anxiety. The recoil mechanism 
of the guns was worn, and the guns did not make as good shooting 
as formerly. The infantry suffered from want of proper artillery 
support. Officers said : ' Fighting the Germans is quite a different 
matter from fighting the Austrians. The German shell falls right 
into our trenches, and there is an extraordinary amount of it." 

Though the enemy in the Suvalki Government was prevented, 
no doubt by the state of the roads, from crossing the Nyeman, he 
severely defeated an attempt of the loth Army to advance north 
on the 2 ist. 

The Russians continually transferred troops from the trans- 
Vistula front to the Narev, while the enemy moved units east from 
Thorn. On February 23rd it was calculated that there were 
fifteen German corps on the front from Thorn to Suvalki opposed 
by fifteen Russian corps distributed as follows : 


ist Turkistan. Guard. Half the Illrd. 

XXVIIth. IVth Siberian. Half the XXth. 

Ist Siberian. Ilnd Siberian. XXVIIth. 

XlXth. Vth. Illrd Siberian. 

Illrd Caucasian. XVth. 

Guard Rifle Brigade. Ilnd. 
ist Caucasian Rifle 

On the 24th I rode with Rodzianko to the Headquarters of 
the 2nd Guard Infantry Division. We found the Staff at lunch 
and anything but cheerful. The mess was in a miserable hut in 

254 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

a miserable village. It had been at a village further north the 
day before, but the Germans had sent over thirty heavy shell, 
killing men and horses and breaking all the windows, so it had 
moved back. The division occupied fourteen versts of front. 
The enemy was firmly settled in Yedvabno cemetery, and our 
guns were said to be unable to bombard him owing to the nearness 
of our men. 

While we were there, Boldirev, the Chief of Staff of the Divi- 
sion, returned from the telephone. He said that the Germans 
were concentrating north-west of Yedvabno to attack. He spoke 
of the Grenaderski Regiment, which had lost half its strength, and 
then went on to say : " I have an unpleasant piece of news for 
you. The battery wagons which went to fill up have returned 
from the parks empty, as they were refused ammunition/ 1 He 
added : " We can fight all right, but not without shell." The 
Divisional Commander said quietly : " You have just to tell the 
artillery to use shell as sparingly as possible." 

The staff of the Lomja Group was even more anxious about 
the enemy's pressure down the Pissa on the left flank. On the 
morning of the 24th they only got to bed at 5 a.m. The Com- 
mander of the gth Siberian Division twice asked for the support 
of the Guard Rifle Brigade. Finally, on Bezobrazov's recom- 
mendation, he was removed from his command and was suc- 
ceeded by the Brigade Commander. 

Some relief was brought by the arrival of the Vth Corps at 
Lomja and Novogrod on the 25th and 26th, and by the news that 
it was to be followed by the 1st Corps. Still, the staff of the I2th 
Army considered that a real offensive would be impossible for 
some six weeks pending the accumulation of shell. 

From February loth till the 25th the following nine corps 
had been transferred to the Narev front : Guard, XVth, Hnd 
Siberian, Vth, Illrd Caucasian, XlXth, 1st Siberian, Ilnd, 1st. 
It was evident that our difficulty did not lie in lack of men. 

Diary of February 25th : 

In tactics the Germans win against anything like equal 
numbers if the Russians have not time to entrench. They 

February, 1915. North of Lomja. Second line defences,. 

[See page 252 

February, 1915. N.E. of Lomja. Peasant women at work on a position. page 254] [See page 252 

_ T- ~^-** 

March, 1915. Novogrod, North Poland. Bridging under difficulties. 

[See page 254 

16th March, 1915. N.E. of Lomja. After lunch at Headquarters of the 2nd 
Division of the Guard. Three figures on left : General Potocki, General Bezobrazov, 
Colonel Boldirev. 

[See page 261 

January -March, 1915 255 

manoeuvre more boldly and are not nervous about their 
flanks, having a wonderful mutual trust in the command. 
The Russians have less idea of manoeuvre. Units do not 
trust one another, and each is constantly nervous regarding 
its flanks. This prevents all dash and initiative. Every 
commander expects to be let down by his neighbour, and of 
course consequently generally is. The Russians suffer 
from the lack of shell, of heavy artillery and of machine- 
guns. It is believed that the Germans have four machine- 
guns per battalion, and they do not spare shell. They use 
their machine-guns to form pivots for manoeuvre, keeping 
up a deadly fire in front from a group of machine-guns 
while the infantry works round one or both flanks. The 
number of these machine-guns makes the capture of a 
trench once lost a very costly business. 

I heard of a battery commander to-day who was told 
that he would be court-martialled if he fired more than 
three rounds per gun per diem without special orders. 

On the 27th I saw some of the men of the 7th Division of the 
Vth Corps as they went forward to relieve the gth Siberian Divi- 
sion. They made a bad impression. Most of them seemed 
listless, of brutally stupid type, of poor physique and stamina. 

Plehve and the Staff of the I2th Army arrived at Lomja from 
Ostrov on the 27th. Orders were received for an attack on 
March 2nd, the plan being to send the 1st Corps forward up the right 
bank of the Bobr to turn the German left, and gradually to wheel 
him out of his fortified positions. 

The march of the 1st Corps through Lomj a on the 28th was not 
an inspiriting spectacle. The men crowded all over the pave- 
ments, and the officers rode or else slouched along without 
making any attempt to enforce march discipline. The corps had 
only three-battalion regiments and only about twenty officers 
per regiment. The bulk of the men had never been under fire, 
and they looked quite untrained. 

It was arranged for the 22nd Division of this Corps to relieve 
two regiments of the 2nd Division of the Guard on our extreme 

256 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

right, north of Vizna, permitting these regiments to move into 
reserve in rear of their Division. The 22nd Division reached its 
appointed position on March ist. The other division of the 1st 
Corps, the 24th, formed a general reserve at the disposition of the 
Army Commander. 

The Guard Corps had the whole eight battalions of the Guard 
Rifle Brigade in reserve. Six regiments of the Illrd Caucasian 
Corps the other two regiments had been sent to Osovets were 
due to arrive at Vizna on the evening of March 2nd. Even with- 
out the Illrd Caucasian Corps, the Russians had seven divisions 
and a brigade of cavalry on a front of forty versts (twenty-seven 
miles). Unfortunately the enemy had been allowed far too long 
to entrench, and we had only three heavy batteries. 

Bezobrazov told me that his plan was to hold back the front 
till the Ist Corps had turned the enemy's flank, while Plehve 
wanted a frontal attack to be combined with the flank attack. 

The question as to whether the attack should be carried out 
with the existing inadequate supplies of shell or postponed till 
more shell had been accumulated depended very much on the risk 
of the fall of Osovets in the event of the adoption of the latter 
alternative. Bezobrazov considered that the fortress was un- 
takeable from the north, and that if a thaw set in it would be 
impossible to attack it on any other face. The Commandant of 
the fortress reported that the enemy had fired 25,000 to 30,000 
shell in the three days 25th to 27th, with only trifling result, but 
that the i6|" guns commenced firing on the 28th and " shook 
the cement in the defences/' Junior officers, however, said that 
the Commandant was only " playing up for the Cross of St. 

Some of the Staff of the Guard Corps thought that the enemy 
would retire rapidly if only attacked before the arrival of rein- 
forcements which he was believed to be transferring from the 
Nyeman front. 

The first attack was made by the 22nd Division without 
proper artillery preparation on the night of March 2nd on a six- 
verst front west of the Bobr. It was repulsed. 

The other division the 24th attacked on the following night. 

January -March, 1915 257 

It took two villages, but most of the officers were either killed or 
wounded in the assault, and the men, left without leaders, like the 
children they are, scattered to loot the German officers' mess and 
to catch stray transport horses. The ground, too, was frozen to 
a depth of two feet, and rapid entrenching was out of the question. 
The Germans counter-attacked and drove the Russians back. 

The following night the remains of the two divisions, supported 
>y a brigade of the Illrd Caucasian Corps, attacked a third time, 
>ut again without success. 

The losses in the three days' fighting were reported to be : 
[st Corps, 16,000 ; Guard Corps, 5,000. 

Plehve was much blamed for making these attacks piecemeal. 
Bezobrazov raged. He told me he had written to the Grand Duke 
to complain of Plehve's " obstinate waste of life." 

The 1st Corps, having lost about 55 per cent, of its strength, 
was relieved in front line by the Illrd Caucasian Corps. Of the 
Guard, the Finlandski, Grenadierski and Semenovski Regiments 
suffered most, the first-named being reduced to a single battalion. 
The Guard had now a front of twenty-two versts, which was 
considered too wide to attack on. Our reserves had melted. 
Plehve had now only the remains of the badly-shattered 1st 
Corps, and Bezobrazov had only two regiments of the Guard Rifle 

Two armoured cars supplied by Messrs. Austin suffered 
severely in one of the attacks of the 1st Corps. 

They advanced up a poor road north-east of Vizna, the engines 
leading. There were three officers and seven men in the two 
cars, and out of the total of ten, seven were killed or wounded. 
The armoured plating, which had been supplied by Vickers of a 
specified thickness, was considered after delivery in Russia to 
be too thin, and was replaced by other plating made at the Putilov 
Works. These latter plates were badly fitted between the bonnet 
and the screen, and a bullet penetrating the brass hinge in the 
interval between the plates killed one driver. The officer who 
took his place was instantly killed by another bullet. In the other 
car the driver was killed by a bullet which came through the 
window. These were the only three men with any knowledge of 


258 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

driving, so the two cars had to remain where they were till dusk, 
when one of the surviving officers ran back and got a squad of 
infantry to pull them back to safety. 

In the latter part of February the 1st Army was engaged in 
some interesting operations in the neighbourhood of Prasnish, 1 
where the Germans displayed their usual daring in an attempt to 
repeat the manoeuvre of Lodz. 

The 63rd Division in occupation of Prasnish was engaged 
with the enemy in its front when its right was turned on Feb- 
ruary 22nd by Sommer's Landwehr Division, which had arrived 
from Mishinets, and, followed by the 1st Reserve Corps, pene- 
trated south between Prasnish and the river Orjits. 

On the following day the enemy continued his advance to the 
south, severing the communications of the 63rd Division by 
cutting the Prasnish-Makov chaussee. 

The Russian Command took prompt counter-measures. The 
Ilnd Siberian Corps, which had detrained at Ostrov, reached 
Krasnoselts on the night of the 23rd and commenced crossing to 
the right bank of the Orjits on the 24th. On the same day the 1st 
Siberian Corps advanced north from Pultusk. 

The enemy's penetrating column was soon attacked on all 
sides, the I2th Army co-operating finely with the ist. Savich 
with the loth Siberian Division and the 5th Rifle Brigade cut the 
Mishinets-Prasnish road. Further west, Vannovski, with the 4th 
Cavalry Division, advanced north between the Ormulev and the 
Orjits to cut the enemy's line of retreat. The Ilnd Siberian 
Corps, having crossed the Orjits, moved west on Prasnish. The 
enemy's further progress south was barred by the Ist Siberian 
Corps, while he was attacked from the south-west by the ist 
Turkistan Brigade and the 38th Division of the XlXth Corps. 
On the 26th the German column was reported to be fighting to get 
out, and it seemed that we were about to make large captures of 
prisoners. In the event, however, the 63rd Division gave way, 
and the bulk of the Germans escaped to the north, taking six 
battalions and all the artillery of the Division with them. The 

1 See Map No. VIII. 

January -March, 1915 259 

Ilnd Siberian Corps then retook the town of Prasnish, capturing 
3,600 prisoners and eight guns. 

On my way to Warsaw on March 2nd I passed these prisoners, 
fine strapping men, well enough clothed and nourished, and 
contrasting very favourably with the men I had seen lately in 
the Russian 1st and Vth Corps. 

On March 5th at Lomja we received the first news of the bom- 
bardment of the Dardanelles. My Diary contains the following : 

Nostitz is in great excitement over the first news of our 
bombardment of the Dardanelles. The news came in just 
before dinner to-night. He kept on asking me whether I 
thought we would be at Constantinople this week. He says 
Constantinople is doomed. He made two speeches at 
dinner, drinking to the health of " the glorious British 
army and fleet." Bezobrazov was very angry with him 
for " making a fool of himself." Of course, I have been 
told nothing about this attempt on the Dardanelles, but I 
think it is a much more serious operation than Nostitz 
imagines, and it will be very difficult without the co- 
operation of a Russian landing from the north. 

While I was visiting the 1st Guard Infantry Division on 
March 7th the Germans commenced an artillery bombardment. 
It was cruel to see our batteries standing idle and helpless while 
the enemy threw some 1,200 heavy shell into our trenches. At 
length our couple of 4-2" guns opened and fired about thirty 
rounds, but their efforts had naturally not the slightest effect on 
the enemy batteries. 

On our way back we called on the Staff of the division. The 
prevailing spirit was pessimistic. The Captain of the General 
Staff said that it was " heavy work " on the North- West Front, 
and that few of us would " return alive." 

The Germans having retired from in front of the loth Army, 
Radkevich advanced and at first made good progress, the XXVIth 
and Illrd Siberian Corps reaching a line south of Avgustov by 
March 8th. His Army consisted, however, of four weak corps 

260 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

only, and, to make matters worse, his advance was carried out 
eccentrically on a front of 100 versts. A German counter-attack 
very soon drove the loth Army back to the comparative security 
of the Grodna defences. 

On March gth Bezobrazov told me that the Guard had lost 
10,173 officers and men in the fighting of the previous three 
weeks, and he estimated the total losses north of Lomja in that 
period at o ver 35,000. Once more he blamed Plehve very strongly 
for dashing troops against the German trenches in frontal attacks 
without proper artillery preparation. 

The enemy forces which had been driven back from Prasnish 
did not rest long, and on March gth they were reported to be 
once more advancing, this time down both banks of the Or jits in 
the general direction of the line Prasnish-Ostrolenka. x 

They, as usual, struck at the point of junction of the two 
armies. Their projects were once more defeated by the efficient 
co-operation of the two Russian staffs. 

On the night of March loth, the G.O.C . ist Army ordered : 

The Ilnd Siberian Corps, with the Ist Siberian Corps on its left, 
to defend the northern approaches to Prasnish. Further south- 
west, the Ist Turkistan Corps to continue the line facing north. 
The XlXth Corps to concentrate south-east and south of Pras- 
nish. Oranovski's Cavalry Corps (three and a half divisions) to 
maintain touch between the right of the ist Army and the left 
of the I2th Army. 

The G.O.C. I2th Army ordered : 

The 4th Cavalry Division to oppose and delay the enemy's 
advance down the left bank of the Orjits. The XXIIIrd Corps 
to advance from Ostrolenka on the morning of the nth to 
Krasnoselts in order to attack the enemy's left flank if he should 
attempt to turn the right of the ist Army. The Illrd Caucasian 
Corps to relieve the Qth Siberian Division and the left units 
of the Guard the same night. The gth Siberian Division 
to rejoin its other division, the loth, which had lost two bat- 
talions on March Qth in an attack by the Germans north of 

1 See Map No.- IX. 

January -March, 1915 261 

Kadzilo. The Vth Corps, with the units attached the 3rd 
Turkistan Rifle Brigade, 2nd Cavalry Division and ist Indepen- 
dent Cavalry Brigade to persevere in the task already ordered, 
i.e., to move north with a view to turning the right flank of the 
enemy operating from the north against Lomja. 

The Germans advanced cautiously, and the Siberian and 
Turkistan Corps retired slowly to allow time for the arrival of 
enforcements. By the I3th a general battle was in progress on 
oth banks of the Orjits. The Russians took the offensive, the 
XlXth Corps advancing north on the right of the Ilnd Siberian 
Corps. The XXIIIrd Corps crossed the Orjits at Ednorojets 
(twenty versts north of Krasnoselts), and attacked the enemy's 
left. The XVth Corps, which had been transferred from the 
loth Army, moved north from Ostrolenka between the Ormulev 
and the Orjits to protect the right flank of the XXIIIrd Corps. 
On the i6th the tired-out Ilnd Siberian Corps was relieved in 
first line by the Ilnd Caucasian Corps. 

All danger was now passed, but severe fighting continued for 
some days, the Russians taking prisoners and guns, but losing 
heavily in wading through marshes to attack villages defended 
by machine-guns. 

Diary, March i6th, 1915 : 

To-day General Bezobrazov took me in an automobile 
to see two regiments of the 2nd Division, or as much of 
them as it was possible to see without going to the trenches. 
He always makes a habit of going to thank units that have 
suffered severely, with the idea of " bucking them up." 

We started at 9 a.m., the General and I in a limousine, 
Rodzianko following in an open car with the A.D.O. on duty. 
It was bitterly cold. Twelve degrees of frost Reaumur. 

We drove to the Headquarters of the 2nd Division and 
started riding from there, or, rather, the others rode and I 
walked most of the way, for the wind seemed to cut my 
hands and feet nearly off. We saw the remnant of the 
Finlandski Regiment one battalion and the Pavlovski 
Regiment and a battery, and then returned to lunch with 

262 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

General Potocki. After lunch we visited another battery. 
Then we saw a battalion of the Moskovski Regiment, which 
is in reserve, and the officers invited us into their dug-out 
to take tea. 

Each unit was drawn up in line, and the General, after 
greeting the men, thanked them in the name of the 
Emperor and the country for their gallant services, and 
added he was sure they would continue to gather fresh 
laurels for the good name of their corps. 

It was touching to see how the men were moved by his 
simple words of praise. They are evidently very fond of 
both Bezobrazov and Potocki, the Division Commander. 
The latter leaned over and chucked men here and there 
under the chin as he rode along. " Pauvres gens," Bezo- 
brazov said to me as we drove away, " ils sont prts a 
donner leur vie pour un sourire." 

Each place we stopped at the General gave a little lecture 
to the officers explanatory of the general situation, of which 
people in the trenches are very ignorant, owing to the 
poorness of the Russian papers and the time they require 
to reach the front. Here, again, I was much struck by 
the wonderful simplicity of the Russian officers as well as 
of the men. When we were in the underground hut of the 
Moskovski Regiment, the conversation ran on the tactics of 
the Germans and how best to circumvent them. The 
General discussed the possibility of a break in our line of 
defence. He said that in case this occurred, the only 
thing to do was to counter-attack at once, but before 
counter-attacking a hurricane fire must be opened, and 
while the counter-attack progresses this fire must be 
lifted to the enemy's reserves. Then in the simplest 
possible way, without any change of voice or hypocritical 
flourish, he added : " You must always remember, too, 
the value of prayer with prayer you can do anything." 
So sudden a transition from professional technicalities to 
simple primary truths seemed incongruous, and gave me 
almost a shock, but was taken quite naturally by the 

January-March, 1915 263 

officers crowding round, with serious bearded faces, in the 
little dug-out. This religious belief is a power in the 
Russian army ; the pity of it is that it is not turned to 
more practical account. Grom well's creed made " poor 
tapsters and serving-men " fit to meet " men of honour," 
and his creed was not a very elevating one. Here, of 
course, we have not got the men of iron to preach and to 
force the best qualities in the rank and file to the front. 
The priests are splendidly self-sacrificing, but their 
initiative has been affected, like everyone's, by generations 
of bureaucratic government. 

On the I5th Bezobrazov gave a gala dinner to General Ir- 
manov, the Commander of the Illrd Caucasian Corps, and his 
Chief of Staff, General Rozanov. The chief bond of sympathy 
was a common dislike of Plehve, the Army Commander, whose 
headquarters were in the town but who was not invited. Irmanov 
was a fine-looking old man, who had spent most of his service in 
Siberia. His father was of German family and his mother a 
Caucasian. He changed his name from " Irman " to " Irmanov " 
at the beginning of the war. He was a strict disciplinarian, and 
his corps consistently distinguished itself. 

Engelhardt returned from attending the Imperial Duma at 
Petrograd in optimistic mood. He told me that he thought the 
war would end in four months, Austria falling to pieces in two 
months' time. I ventured to disagree on the ground that the 
Germans were too intelligent ever to allow Austria to lapse from 
the alliance. 

Engelhardt, like practically everyone, except Nostitz, was a 
strong advocate of the superior strategic importance of the South- 
West Front. He said he could understand Rennenkampf's and 
Samsonov's invasion of East Prussia as being done to relieve 
pressure on France, but he considered Sievers's renewal of the 
invasion last December to be indefensible. Russia, in his opinion, 
should have held the river line of the Nyeman-Bobr-Narev with 
seven corps and Opolchenie. This line should have been as 

264 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

strongly fortified as possible. Our cavalry should have been 
thrown forward to, and if possible in advance of, the frontier, to 
destroy all the German railways it could. 

Bezobrazov thought our defensive line should run as far 
south as the Pilitsa. 

I doubted whether seven Russian corps would be enough to 
hold an enemy as enterprising as the Germans, with the railway 
system of East Prussia at his back, on a front of 250 miles (Kovna 
to Novo Georgievsk), which would, moreover, increase as we 
advanced, unless we had a central strategic reserve of several 
corps at, say, Syedlets. On the other hand, I agreed with 
Engelhardt that his plan was infinitely preferable to the plan so 
far followed of tentative invasions of East Prussia, followed by 
tentative invasions of Galicia. 

Engelhardt said : " Russia's strength is in the number of her 
population and in the extent of her territory. Even if the 
Germans did cut the Vilna-Grodna-Warsaw line, we still have the 
Bologoe-Syedlets. Russia's strategy is rotten, for her Generals 
have not even got ideas, much less the ability to put ideas into 

He agreed with me that there were many excellent officers in 
the Russian army up to the rank of company and squadron com- 
mander, but considered that the peace training of officers of 
higher rank had been conducted on false principles. The com- 
pany and squadron commanders were the only individuals that 
practised continually in peace the duties that they would have 
to carry out in war, i.e., to command their companies or squadrons. 
Even the battalion commander spent the greater part of his time 
criticising or instructing his company commanders. It is much 
easier to criticise than to command oneself. Commanders of all 
grades should teach themselves by war games, staff rides, etc. 
Criticism is, of course, necessary as a guide for the junior ranks, 
but the duty of commanders should be always to teach themselves 
before teaching others. 

He blamed the Staff for issuing orders which they should know 
it is quite impossible for the troops to carry out, and he instanced 
the order given to the Illrd Caucasian Corps on the night of 

January -March, 1915 265 

March loth to march thirty-six versts on the nth and to relieve 
the gth Siberian Division in front line on that night. 

Late on the night of the i6th orders were received which 
amounted practically to a " stand fast " all along the North- West 
Front. The loth, I2th, ist, 2nd and 5th Armies were directed to 
continue the fortification of their front, keeping at the same time 
a careful watch for any weakening of the enemy opposed to them. 
The Ist Siberian Corps was to form a general reserve at the 
disposal of the Gommander-in- Chief North- West Front, and was 
ordered to Syedlets. 

Osovets was considered to be out of danger. The fortress 
artillery had proved itself equal to the German siege artillery ; 
the enemy had found the garrison in good heart and the place not 
to be carried by a coup de main. 

On March ijih the Intelligence of the I2th Army estimated the 
German strength in the Eastern theatre at the following number of 
corps : 

Nyeman Front . . . . . . 4 corps 

Bobr-Narev Front : 

Opposing 1 2tli Army 5 corps 

Opposing ist Army 6 corps 

ii corps 
Trans-Vistula Front . . . . 8 corps 

Carpathians . . . . . . . . 4 or 5 corps 

Austrians, 40 divisions, equivalent to . . 20 corps 

Total . . . . 47 or 48 corps 

We had fifty-two corps, but the enemy's advantage lay in his 
railways, in his supply of shell, in the number of his machine-guns, 
and, above all, in the rational organisation which allowed him to 
replace casualties rapidly. For instance, the German corps 
defeated at Prasnish at the end of February marched to the 
frontier, filled up, and started back in one or two days, as we 
learned from prisoners. When one of our corps, as, for instance, 

266 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

the 1st, lost over 50 per cent., it had to wait for weeks, practically 
out of action, till drafts arrived. 

March ijth, 1915. LOMJA. 

Colonel Nadzimov, who is in charge of the rear services 
of the Guard, took me to talk to some German officers who 
had been brought in as prisoners. I had on the Russian 
officer's " shuba," which I always wear, to prevent Russian 
sentries from firing at me, and I do not think they had any 
idea I was a Britisher. The Russians turned the conversa- 
tion on to England. The Germans are very sure of them- 
selves and full of argument. " England only caused the 
war. Scarborough is well known to be a fortified base, 
The English fleet is afraid to attack the German fleet. It 
could find it any day if it came to Heligoland. Germany 
will win, and the war will only stop when England has had 
enough of it. Both Russia and France were entirely 
dependent on England. Russia has no interests opposed 
to the interests of Germany, but her interests clash every- 
where with British interests for instance, in Persia and 
China. England's object in the war is to destroy a 
commercial rival " a natural idea to their mind, ap- 

On the I7th I received a telegram from the Ambassador 
asking me to return to Petrograd. I left Lomja on the i8th and 
motored to Warsaw, where I got a train on the morning of the 
igth that took me to Petrograd in forty-two hours, a journey of 
seventeen hours in peace ! 





WITH the exception of a short visit to Moscow in April, I 
spent the four months from the middle of March till the 
middle of July at Petrograd, enquiring into the organisation of 
the rear services and especially the arrangements for the supply 
of men and munitions. Captain Neilson accompanied the 
Russian 3rd Army in its April offensive in the Western Car- 
pathians and in its retreat during May and June in Galicia. 
Captain Blair visited the Qth Army on the extreme left, and saw 
something of its offensive in May. 

The General Staff stated that the Russian losses up till 
January I3th i.e., during the first five months of war were, 
exclusive of prisoners and of wounded who returned to the front 
13,899 officers, 319 officials, 482,162 rank and file. 

The Chief of the General Staff at Petrograd, General Byelyaev, 
in April stated that altogether 8,200,000 men had been called up, 
and that the " feeding strength " was then 6,300,000. Presumably 
the difference 1,900,000 represented the killed and prisoners, 
and those men who had been permanently evacuated from the 
front on account of wounds and sickness. The casualty total was, 
of course, greater, for the 1,900,000 did not include men who had 
recovered and returned to the front, or the wounded who were 
still in hospital and in receipt of Government rations. However, 
he stated that the proportion of the evacuated that returned to the 
front was very small ; it had risen to 40 per cent, in one month, 
but had since fallen to 25 per cent. No less than 50 per cent, of 

the evacuations were for sickness. 


268 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

The 8,200,000 men already called up were drawn from the 
following classes : 

Active army, Reserve and Cossacks, allowing for 

exemptions on account of special employment 4,538,000 

Opolchenie, ist Ban, say . . . . . . 2,262,000 

Recruits of 1914 Conscription, called up on October 
I4th, 1914, men of 21-22. Went to 
the front in January and February, 1915 . . 700,000 

Recruits of 1915 Conscription, called up on February 
7th, 1915, men of 20-21. Now being sent to 
the front . . . . . . . . 700,000 

Total . . . . 8,200,000 

The General Staff had no fear for the future as regards the 
supply of men. General Byelyaev said that, though the wastage 
in the present war had exceeded anything previously dreamed of, 
" even if we were to continue for two years more, and at the 
present rate of wastage, we would have no difficulty in finding the 


Up to this time no men of over thirty-nine had been called up. 
The 2nd Ban of the Opolchenie had not been touched. 

The Opolchenie of either ban had only previously been 
twice called up in 1812 and in 1854. The young men of the 
annual recruit contingents were throughout the war found to be 
of far more reliable material. The men of the Opolchenie always 
joined with a grievance, for they considered that they had been 
originally freed from the obligation of active service once and for 
all. Besides, they had most of them family ties, which few of 
the recruits had as yet contracted. So strong was this feeling 
that eventually it was found desirable, in order to avoid desertions, 
to train the men of the Opolchenie at a distance from their 

To meet the enormous wastage in the infantry the strength of 
the depot battalions was raised, and their number was increased 
from 192 to 237, and, to provide reserves more or less on the spot, 

Summer of 1915 269 

60 of the total number of 237 were allotted to the frontal area 
30 to the North- West Front and 30 to the South- West Front. 
The remaining 177 battalions were distributed to empty barracks 
in the populous centres of the interior. The Moscow Military 
District had 71 battalions and had despatched 2,000 draft com- 
panies, or half a million men, to the front by April I4th, 1915. 

IThe principle was to train raw recruits for four weeks and men 
of the Opolchenie for six weeks, the idea being that the older men, 
in spite of their previous training, required longer to discipline. 
The period of training was, of .course, quite inadequate, and even 
that was subject to reduction. During the emergency of the 
retreat from Poland in 1915, infantry drafts were sent to the 
front who had never fired a shot and did not even know how to 
handle their rifles. They deserted en masse. 

In the other arms, where the percentage of casualties had 
been less, the draft system worked well. 

The sixty-five depot squadrons which existed in peace for 
the training of young remounts continued their work after 
mobilisation, assuming responsibility for the training of men as 
well as of horses. The remount committees, as before, purchased 
three-and-a-half -year-olds, which were put through the ordinary 
long course of training, but also bought for more immediate use 
five-to twelve-year-olds. The latter were trained as rapidly as 
possible by the reservist rough-riders, who returned to work in the 
depot squadrons on mobilisation. The horses, when sufficiently 
trained, were handed over to reservists or trained recruits, who 
took them in draft squadrons to the front. 

Each depot squadron was strictly affiliated to its parent regi- 
ment and supplied it only with men and horses. Up till the 
beginning of May on an average each depot squadron had sent 
forward three draft squadrons. So far almost all the men 
despatched to the front had been previously trained cavalry 

On mobilisation five depot artillery divisions, each of two 
batteries, had been formed, to prepare artillery drafts for the 
front. These were found inadequate for dealing with the 
mass of artillery reservists, and in addition three depot 

270 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

artillery brigades, each of six batteries, were formed. These 
depot divisions and brigades did not train horses, which were 
prepared in special artillery horse depots. They were not 
affiliated to units at the front, but sent drafts on demand to the 
headquarters of ' ' fronts. ' ' One division the 1st which was seen 
in May, had " trained " over 400 officers and 30,000 men in nine 
and a half months of war, and it had 60 officers and 3,800 men 
under instruction at the time. 

General Yanushkevich stated in March that he had mobilised 
106 infantry and 33 cavalry divisions for work on the Western 
frontier. This represented a puny effort compared with that of 
France, which, as M. Delcasse pointed out, had 4,000,000 of 
men under arms, a burden on the economic life of the country 
that might be compared to 17,000,000 in Russia. 

General Byelyaev always maintained that the difficulty was 
solely one of armament. He said he could place the infantry 
of three new corps in the field every month if only he had 

There was, however, a good deal required besides mere rifles 
to make the infantry drafts of any real use when they arrived at 
the front. The men required longer training and energetic 
officers, who, while enforcing strict discipline, would look properly 
after the comfort of their men, a proper organisation of the supply 
and transport services, shell to support them in attack and 
defence, and leading that inspired confidence. 

Unfortunately, the situation on the front since the first 
realisation in November of the shortage of rifles and shell had not 
permitted of the accumulation of any reserve. Apart from the 
large quantities of material lost in the disaster to the loth Army, 
the normal monthly wastage exceeded in quantity the supplies 
received from the rear. The greatest lack was still of rifles. Un- 
armed men had to be sent into the trenches to wait till their 
comrades were killed or wounded and their rifles became avail- 
able. Large orders had been placed with American firms, but 
there was no chance of their materialising before the end of the 
year. On June 23rd I telegraphed that Russia would not be 

Summer of 1915 271 

able to undertake any offensive for eight months owing to lack of 

In December I had been told that there was enough small arms 
ammunition to ' ' throw out of the window. ' ' Its supply now began 
to give anxiety, for the expenditure rose to over 100,000,000 a 
month, a figure which it was difficult for the factories to reach 
owing to lack of propellant. 

The average number of guns per 1,000 bayonets was only 
2' 12, and many guns required retubing. Still, the number and 
the quality of the guns was a secondary matter as compared with 
the urgent necessity for the increase of the supply of shell. No 
shell had yet come from abroad. The Russian factories were 
making a great effort, but they were handicapped by the difficulty 
of producing fuse. 

The Artillery Department had been constantly attacked in 
pre-war days by patriotic members of the Duma, such as M. 
Guchkov, for its red tapism and for its slowness in spending 
funds allotted by the Duma. It had come to consist largely of 
technical experts who were out of touch with the life and the 
practical requirements of their comrades in the field. Officers 
appointed to the Artillery Committee, which decided all technical 
questions, generally remained there till they died. In 1913 there 
were members who had served on the Committee for forty-two 

The Department received at first with little sympathy the 
cry from the front for shell. It thought that shell was being 
wasted, and took months to awaken to its need in quantities 
hitherto undreamed of. 

The Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich left his post of Inspector 
of Artillery to undertake the superintendence of production. A 
man of over six feet five and a good artillery officer, he was 
inspired only by patriotic motives, and toiled all day in his Palace 
on the Millionnaya, though he suffered from very indifferent 
health. He was always accessible and answered the telephone 

He, however, did not believe in the need for shell on the scale 
that the Allies in the West had found to be necessary. As a 

272 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

patriotic Russian, he mistrusted foreign experts, and thought that 
Russian experts were as good as any in the world. 

He delayed a whole fortnight before receiving a French 
technical mission which had arrived in Petrograd at the end of 
January with the object of assisting the Russians to develop their 
production of shell. This mission, which consisted of able 
experts, after enquiry into the local situation, put forward four 
practical suggestions : 

1. That in order to increase the supply of artillery ammunition, 
production should be simplified by manufacturing H.E. shell with 
delayed action fuse instead of the more complicated shrapnel. 

The Russians objected on the ground that the French fuse 
would be ineffective in marshy ground. 

2. That the rules of " inspection " should be made less 
rigorous, and useless formality generally should be abolished. 

The Artillery Department was in the habit of sending men 
abroad as inspectors, who were without any technical knowledge, 
and were therefore obliged to follow the specification pedantically 
and without intelligence. On one occasion an officer told me his 
brother had gone to England to " take over " big guns. I asked 
if he knew anything of gunnery. The reply was : " No. He is a 
lawyer by education, an artist by inclination, and a cavalry officer 
by occupation." 

3. That labour in the mines should be militarised in order to 
secure a constant supply of coal. 

The engineers of the Donetz Basin objected that such a 
measure would be equivalent to a relapse to serfdom, a reply that 
made the French officers not a little indignant. " Nous Francais 
sommes done des esclaves ? " 

4. That a constant supply of both coal and raw material 
should be ensured by introducing proper methods for the use and 
organisation of the railway rolling-stock. 

Unfortunately for Russia and her Allies, the first of these 
suggestions was the only one that was partially approved, and it 
was only after some three months that the mission obtained from 
the Grand Duke permission to manufacture a million H.E. shell 
with the " fusee a retard," under the proviso that the work should 

Summer of 1915 273 

not be carried out at Petrograd or in the Donetz Basin, where the 
factories were occupied with the production of shrapnel. 

Lord Kitchener's idea was to induce the Russian Government 
to increase their orders for material from abroad. 

On April loth I handed the Grand Duke a telegram offering a 
contract for shell with the American Locomotive Combine. He 
said that the Artillery Department did not intend to place any 
more orders for shell abroad, but required propellant and fuses. 
Lord Kitchener, however, repeated his offer, strongly recom- 
mending the contract, and asking for a definite reply by 12 noon 
on the 1 5th. I read the message to the Grand Duke, who replied 
by confirming his previous refusal. 

Russian officers were particularly bitter regarding the failure 
of the firm of Vickers to supply shrapnel and fuses as soon as 
expected. They argued that if Vickers, " who had grown rich 
on Russian orders/' failed them, there was nothing to be hoped for 
from other foreign firms on whom Russia had no claim, and it was 
only a waste of money to pay the large advance which such firms 
demanded before accepting an order. On May I3th the Grand 
Duke Serge said : " Vickers cares only for money. He has got an 
advance of Rs.4,ooo,ooo from us, and has put it in his pocket 
and done nothing. I have been at his works twice, and know 
their size. It is ridiculous for him to say that he can make 
no better attempt to keep his contracts, when we in Russia have 
increased our output of shell from the 42,000 of August to the 
550,000 of April." 

Lord Kitchener determined to appeal to the Commander-in- 
Chief, and in early May an able and energetic artillery officer, 
Colonel Ellershaw, arrived with a letter for the Grand Duke 
Nikolas, urging the placing of additional orders for shell abroad. 

Ellershaw carried out his mission with success, and returning 
to Petrograd from G.H.Q. on May i6th, brought with him a letter 
from the Chief of Staff to General Manikovski, the Governor of 
the Fortress of Kronstadt, and the Assistant of the Grand Duke 
Serge on the committee which had been specially formed to take 
in hand the supply of shell. 


274 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

. We obtained an interview with Manikovski that day and 
handed him the letter. He read us extracts. Yanushkevich 
wrote that the Commander-in-Chief had appointed Lord Kitchener 
as his agent for the purchase of shell, rifles and ammunition, that 
the giving of such powers to a foreign General was not in accord- 
ance with Russian law, but since it was a question whether Russia 
should be victorious or defeated, " we will spit on the law/' 

This was my first interview with Manikovski, whom I was 
afterwards to get to know well. He was a small, thick-set man, 
with a bluff manner. He spoke only Russian, and on this 
occasion in a voice loud enough to be heard by a whole regiment. 
We soon found that, though a fortress-gunner all his life, he took 
the infantry point of view that we could not have too much shell. 
He said that the Grand Duke Serge was a man of great ability, 
but that he had never " smelt powder," and he loved the Artillery 
Department and all its ways, " like a man will still love a woman, 
though he knows all the time that she is a bad lot." 

Next day we visited the Grand Duke Serge, and Ellershaw, 
speaking English, pleaded Lord Kitchener's point of view. The 
Grand Duke asked : " When will Lord Kitchener deliver his first 
lot of shell ? Will you take a bet that we get anything in the 
next six months ? ' He added that he wanted shell at the 
present moment and not in six months' time, that he would have 
1,500,000 shell in August, and that even in the first month of 
the war, when expert artillerists thought that 50 per cent, of the 
rounds had been wasted, he had used only 1*2 millions. We 
pointed out that the Russian artillery was so good that it could 
not fire enough to please the infantry. The Grand Duke said that 
the guns would burst. 

Of course it was more than doubtful whether the supply from 
all sources would really reach 1,500,000 in August. The Grand 
Duke depended on large deliveries from the French Government, 
and the Canadian Car and Foundry Company. 

Obviously the better plan was to develop home production. 

The increase of the monthly production of shell in Russia by 
1,300 per cent, in the nine months August- April, without any 
practical assistance from the Allies, was, taking into consideration 

Summer of 1915 275 

the backward state of Russian industrial development, at least 
as fine a performance as the increase in Great Britain in a 
similar period by 1,900 per cent. 

Ellershaw returned to England. The Grand Duke Serge went 
to Baranovichi and then proceeded on sick leave to the Crimea. 
Manikovski succeeded Kuzmin Karavaev at the head of the 
Artillery Department, and retained that position till the end of 
the war. He proved himself to be a man of remarkable energy 
and organising ability, and a quick worker. 

On May 26th the Ambassador handed to M. Sazonov a tele- 
gram received from the Foreign Office stating that Lord Kitchener 
would do his best to obtain shell for Russia, but reminding the 
Russian Government that it had refused two very important 
offers on March gth a contract for 5,000,000 rounds with the 
Bethlehem Steel Company, and on April I5th a contract for 
5,000,000 rounds complete with the exception of propellant with 
the American Locomotive Combine. 

As the British Government had so far only helped with sugges- 
tions, but had given no practical assistance in the essential matter 
of hurrying up deliveries on the contracts placed by its advice, it 
was only natural that this communication provoked a retort. At 
the beginning of June M. Sazonov sent the following " Notice ' 
to the Embassy : 

" Among the orders placed in England by the Imperial 
Government, with the consent of the British Government, 
a certain number were of an urgent character, and to these, 
on that account, the Russian Government invited the 
special attention of the British Embassy at Petrograd, as 
well as that of General Williams and General Paget. 

"Two million shell were ordered from Vickers, to be 
delivered as follows : 

March . . . . 60,000. 

April to September . . 240,000 per month. 

October and November 250,000 per month. 

" One million fuses were ordered from the same firm to 
be delivered as follows : 

276 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

February . . . . . . 30,000 

March and monthly till com- 
pletion of contract . . 138,600 

" So far there has been no delivery on either of these 

" Five million shell were ordered through the British 
Government from Canada. The delivery should have 
commenced in April, but nothing has been received yet." 

It is easy to understand and to sympathise with the different 
points of view. The Russian Government wanted to see some 
return from its foreign orders before placing new ones. Lord 
Kitchener, who foresaw the long war, that nobody in Russia 
believed in, even in May, 1915, saw clearly that the orders were 
quite insufficient. On the whole, however, the French plan of 
sending out experts to expand the home Russian industries was 
the best, and would have borne most fruit if the Russian Govern- 
ment had given these experts anything like a free hand. 

As the Russians mistrusted the foreign expert, they also mis- 
trusted any foreign new-fangled article till they had had practical 
proof of its value. The British General Staff had sent out a 
specimen gas-mask. The Chief of the Russian Red Cross, the 
Duke of Oldenburg, who was Patron of the Law School, took up 
the matter energetically, and kept the law students back for three 
weeks from their summer holidays till they had completed the 
manufacture of 100,000 respirators. 

On June ist gas was used for the first time on a large scale 
on the Bzura and lower Ravka. The Press, in describing the 
attack, stated that the Russians " had time to take the necessary 
measures." It transpired later that the " necessary measures " 
consisted of urinating on handkerchiefs and tying them round 
the face, for the respirators sent from Petrograd were still lying 
at Warsaw and had not been distributed to the troops. Over one 
thousand men died from gas-poisoning. 

In the second week of June there were riots in Moscow, which 
caused considerable damage. Rumour said that the outbreak 

Summer of 1915 277 

was the result of discontent owing to the proposed calling up of 
the 2nd Ban of the Opolchenie, and that the secret police 
had cleverly turned the movement into anti-German channels. 
M. Rodzianko, the President of the Duma, maintained that the 
riots were the result of German intrigue, which made use of 
popular dissatisfaction at the inefficiency of the present Govern- 
ment ! He said that the Russian Government was " very bad." 
I suggested that it had redeeming features, and instanced the 
prohibition of vodka as a more thorough-going reform than had 
been produced by a century of chatter in other assemblies. 

There was a general demand for the removal of the three 
Ministers, Maklakov (Interior), Shcheglovitov (Justice), and Suk- 
homlinov (War). 

People said that Maklakov owed his place as Minister of the \ 
Interior to his knack of imitating animals, which had amused the j 
Imperial children when depressed by the murder of Stolypin/ 
in 1911. After the Moscow riots he was replaced by Prince 
Shcherbatov, a man of more liberal tendencies. 

On June 25th Sukhomlinov was dismissed, and was succeeded 
as Minister of War by General Polivanov. The Emperor, who 
liked Sukhomlinov and disliked Polivanov, was only induced to 
make this change by the pressure of the Grand Duke Nikolas and 
the Constitutionalists. He had told Sukhomlinov in an audience 
at Tsarskoe Selo on June 23rd that he would retain his portfolio, 
but on the following day at Baranovichi he was persuaded by the 
Grand Duke that a change was necessary in order to soothe 
popular discontent. He wrote a letter to Sukhomlinov with his 
own hand, expressing his sorrow at parting with him after such 
long years of work, and leaving to history the task of estimating 
the value of the work he had accomplished for Russia. 

Polivanov had been Assistant Minister of War from 1906 to 
1912, when his chief, Sukhomlinov, procured his dismissal on the 
ground that he had been intriguing against him. It was supposed 
at the time that the " intrigue " consisted of his communicating 
to members of the Duma the details of Sukhomlinov's employment 
of the traitor Myasoyedov. The final exposure of the latter proved 
a fatal blow to Sukhomlinov, 

278 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

The Grand Duke's bulletin on April 2nd had announced that 
Colonel Myasoyedov, "lately interpreter on the Staff of the loth 
Army," had been hung for betraying official secrets, and that 
investigations were in progress with a view to bringing similar 
charges against several other individuals. 

Myasoyedov had been for several years the officer in charge of 
the gendarmerie at the frontier station of Verjbolovo. He was 
dismissed on a charge of smuggling, but through the influence of 
General Sukhomlinov, whose wife was a friend of Madame Mya- 
soyedov, he obtained a " special post " at the Ministry of War. In 
1912 Guchkov, the Octobrist leader, attacked Sukhomlinov for 
employing Myasoyedov to shadow Russian officers, and roundly 
accused Myasoyedov of being a spy in the service of a foreign 
power. The matter caused much scandal at the time, and 
Guchkov and Myasoyedov fought a duel. 

However, Myasoyedov had powerful friends in the Minister 
of War and other members of the Extreme Right, and he continued 
to be employed in counter-espionage. It was in that capacity, 
and not as a mere interpreter, that he was attached to the Staff of 
the loth Army. Like Redl in Austria, he worked for the enemy 
rather than for his own country. 

It is said that the first evidence of his activities in this war was 
the discovery of a list of names on the body of a German staff 
officer killed in France. It appears that he sent his information 
through an individual who traded at Petrograd as an advertising 
agent, sub-letting hoardings at railway stations. This agent con- 
stantly received telegrams which appeared innocent, but were 
really in a pre-arranged code. He transmitted the messages 
through Sweden to Germany. Myasoyedov gave away to the 
enemy the exact position and strength of the loth Russian army, 
and so ensured the initial success of their February offensive. 

The peasants had at this time no economic cause for dis- 
content. They were getting good prices for their grain, and were 
saving the money they had formerly spent on vodka. There was 
as yet no famine of manufactured products. 

The industrial population of the towns was in worse case, for 

Summer of 1915 279 

the working-men's budget of expenditure had risen upwards of 40 
per cent., without a corresponding increase in wages. Black 
bread, which had been 2 to 3 kopeks a pound before the war, was 
now 4 to 5 kopeks ; meat was 30 kopeks instead of 24 ; tea 180 
instead of 160 ; sugar 16 to 25 instead of 12 to 15. Meat and 
sugar were often unobtainable by the poor in Petrograd. 

All classes were already beginning to weary of the war. The 
men on leave spread stories of the slaughter and the suffering. 
The suggestion began to be whispered that Russia had been 
enticed into a war for a quarrel that was not her own. It was 
constantly asked what the Allies in the West were doing, and 
when the British army would be ready. The public commenced 
to mistrust the Government and the higher leading. Treachery 

-^^WWIW^B^^I^W******* ^W***^^^^^ 

at the top was a comfortable explanation of continual defeat. 
There was no strong patriotism as in Great Britain to weld all 
classes together. It is unfortunately not in the character of the 
average Russian to persevere long in an uphill task. I remember 
a young cavalry officer asking me in Poland in the early days of 
October, 1914, how long I thought the war would last, and adding, 
with the usual expressive Russian gesture, that he was " fed to 
the teeth with it." I have often wondered how that poor fellow 
has lived through the years since, or whether he soon found a 
refuge in death from a life that had proved too boring. 





AS explained in Chapter VI., on March i8th orders were 
issued to the North-West Front which provided for a 
" standfast " all along the line. The loth, I2th, 1st, 2nd and 5th 
Armies were told to continue to fortify their front, keeping at the 
same time a careful watch for any weakening of the opposing 
enemy. It was decided to leave East Prussia severely alone. 
The policy of combining the defensive on the North- West Front 
with an offensive on the South- West Front was regarded by the 
vast majority of the officers of the Russian General Staff as offering 
the greatest chance of success. It was conceded that the initial 
raids into East Prussia had been of use, since they withdrew 
pressure from France, but it was considered that the systematic 
conquest of that province, together with West Prussia, would 
require far greater force than Russia could withdraw from Western 
Poland and the Carpathians. It was further pointed out that, 
even supposing such conquest to be successful, large forces would 
still be required to mask the fortress of Konigsberg and the 
bridgeheads on the lower Vistula, while the Russian right on the 
Baltic would always be open to attack. 

Unfortunately the defence of the North- West Front from 
Kovna to the Pilitsa absorbed in the spring of 1915 fifty-two 
infantry and at least sixteen cavalry divisions, numerically half, 
and in quality the better half, of the Russian Army. 

The surrender of Przemysl on March 22nd freed the besieging 
Russian army for more active operations, besides opening a direct 


April-August, 1915 281 


double line of railway for the supply of the 3rd Army on the 
Dunajec. The garrison which surrendered included 9 generals, 
93 field and 2,500 junior officers, with 117,000 rank and file. It 
was generally considered that with proper organisation the re- 
sistance of the fortress might have been considerably prolonged. 
Though some of the defending troops were half-starved, the 
Russians, on entering the town, found that the Jews had hidden 
away large stores of food. 

In February the XVIIth and XVIIIth Corps, together with 
the Staff of the 9th Army, had been transferred from the trans- 
Vistula Front to the extreme Russian left north of Stanislau. 

General Ruzski was retired from the command of the North- 
West Front on account of illness, and was replaced by General 
Alexyeev, who had hitherto acted as Chief of Staff to General 
Ivanov on the South- West Front. 

The Russians in early April endeavoured to carry out an 
offensive in a southerly direction across the Carpathians with the 
idea of occupying the Hungarian railways running south of and 
parallel to the main range. The movement was carried out by 
the two left corps of the 3rd Army (the Xllth and XXIXth) 
and by the 8th Army, the corps of which lay from right to left 
as follows : Vlllth, XVIIth, XXVIIIth and Vllth. 

At the price of terrible sufferings from the cold, these six corps 
succeeded by the middle of April in fighting their way through 
about a fifth of the distance to their objective. The advance 
came to a halt on April i8th " to await the arrival of drafts and 
new supplies of ammunition." Russian officers said at the time 
that the halt would be for two weeks only. It is curious that 
exactly two weeks later on May 2nd Mackenzen struck at the 
centre of the 3rd Army and at once changed the whole situation. 
It was then recognised that the Carpathian offensive had been a 
mistake, for it had lessened the power of resistance of the 3rd 
Army. Even before the offensive, the right of this Army had been 
weakened by the transfer of the Xlth Corps to the 9th Army on 

282 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

the extreme Russian left. It was still further weakened in the 
last days of April by the move of the XXIst Corps from its 
position west of Tarnow in an easterly direction to the neighbour- 
hood of the Mezo-Laborcz Pass. 

On May 2nd the 145 miles of front of the 3rd Army was held 
by corps from right to left in the following order : IXth, Xth, 
XXIVth, Xllth, XXIst, XXIXth. 

The two right corps, the IXth and Xth, had been sitting in- 
active on the Dunajec for over four months. Though there had 
been ample time to construct several successive lines of fieldworks, 
only two lines of defence had been prepared, and on a great part of 
the front only a single line. Radko Dimitriev had been opposed 
throughout the winter by the Austrian army of the Archduke 
Joseph, which contained only a single German division. The 
majority of the Russian batteries seem to have occupied the same 
position all the winter. The Austrians shot so badly that there 
seemed no reason why they should trouble to move. However, 
even the Austrians could not Help marking down the position of 
every gun and getting its range. The Austrians did the spade- 
work, and when the Germans arrived under Mackenzen, the hero 
of Lodz, they found themselves at once at home. 

The Russian General Staff at Petrograd issued later a sort of 
official apology for the retirement. This document stated that 
the Germans concentrated upwards of 1,500 guns, of which many 
were of medium calibre, against the right of the 3rd Army. They 
fired 700,000 shell in the four hours preceding the attack. It 
was calculated that they used ten medium-calibre shell for every 
pace and a half of front, and as a natural result all the Russians 
in the danger zone who were not killed or wounded were stunned 
or contusioned. 

The Russians had nothing with which to reply. It is believed 
that there were not more than three medium-calibre batteries in 
the whole of the 3rd Army. 

The German phalanx drove forward over the silent Russian 
trenches between Gorlice and Tuchow and swarmed along the 
railway towards Rzeszow and Jaroslau. 

So much for the Xth Corps, The turn of the IXth Corps on 

April-August, 1915 283 

the right followed. After suffering heavy bombardment, it was 
forced to abandon the lower Dunajec and to retire east. 

It was now that Radko Dimitriev suffered for his lack of fore- 
sight in the winter. If rear pivots of defence had been prepared, 
their delaying effect would have far exceeded that of the first 
line, for before attacking them the Germans would have had to 
have moved up their heavy guns and to have got the range. 

During the retreat he did his best as a gallant fighter. He 
first tried to restore the battle by directing the Illrd Caucasian 
Corps, his only reserve, against the right of the German phalanx 
in a counter-attack through Jaslo. The corps was too weak to 
effect anything, and was swept aside, losing heavily. 

The left of the 3rd Army as well as the right, and the whole 
of the 8th Army, was now in full retreat from the Carpathians, 
and all the ground won in the April offensive was abandoned. 
The supply of gun ammunition failed everywhere, and also in 
many places, owing to faulty organisation, there was a shortage of 
small-arms ammunition. Radko Dimitriev attempted another 
counter-attack, this time through Krosno, with the XXIst Corps, 
but this, too, failed to stem the tide, and the enemy's phalanx, 
sweeping on, overwhelmed the XXIVth Corps at the crossings of 
the San. 

The distance from Gorlice to Jaroslau is ninety-three miles. 
The German troops reached the latter town on the fourteenth day 
of their offensive, having covered the distance at the rate of six 
and a half miles a day, repairing the railway as they advanced. 

On the following day they forced the passage of the San and 
occupied about eight miles of the right bank down-stream from 
Jaroslau. On the I7th this advanced force developed its success, 
extending its left to Sieniawa and moving some five miles further 
east. The position became critical for the Russians, for if the 
German wedge had succeeded in penetrating further east they 
would have been forced to abandon the whole line of the San. 
Fortunately, however, it was only this " Mackenzen wedge " that 
had gained any great success. 

In trans-Vistula Poland the 4th Army had moved back 
from the Nida in conforrnance to the retreat of the 3rd Army. 

284 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

It reached the line Novemyasto-west of Radom-Ilja-Opatov, 
and then turning on Voyrsch and Dankl's pursuing troops, drove 
them back in a vigorous counter-stroke, making 4,000 prisoners. 
The Germans on May 20th had to transfer troops to the left bank 
of the Vistula to support Dankl. Similarly on the igth they had 
to reinforce their right to resist the offensive of the gth Army, 
which had been launched on May gth. 

The 3rd Army was, however, in a pitiable condition. Captain 
Neilson wrote on May igth : 

" Their losses have been colossal. They confessed to 
over 100,000 on the i6th, but I think they have lost 
more. Here are a few details which I know to be 
correct : 

" Xth Corps : in one division 1,000 men remain ; in the 

other only 900. 
I2th Siberian Division : only 2,000 men remain/' 

The Vienna communique of May i8th stated that the captures 
of the first half of May were 170,000 prisoners, 128 guns and 368 
machine-guns, and there is no reason to believe that the estimate 
was exaggerated. 

Neilson's letter continued : 

" An airman tells me that he reported for three weeks 
that the Germans were concentrating, but no one believed 
him. Spies also reported this, but no precautions were 
taken. ... In the retreat Radko has fought every yard, 
pouring in reinforcements like lead into a furnace. . . . 
Germans do the work, then Austrians take their place and 
the Germans rest till they are required again. . . . Local 
reinforcements have caused this Army to become an 
inextricable jumble. ... In the firing-line they are very 
sore, say they have absolutely no direction from above ; 
units advance and retire at will. . . . The army is still 
fighting stubbornly but has no strength left. To-day is 
the eighteenth day of uninterrupted battle and retreat. 
I fancy the men have had very little to eat. . . . The 
army had been spoiled by, up to now, having been opposed 

April-August, 1915 285 

by Austrians. It did not know what real fighting meant. 
... I personally fear a blow on Warsaw from the direction 
of Lyublin. Galicia is doomed beyond all doubt." 

The Headquarters of the 3rd Army were now at Tomashov, 
and its front ran for eighty miles from Tarnobrzeg on the Vistula 
by Nisko up the right bank of the San to Sieniawa, then along a 
loop to the east and back to the San south of Jaroslau and along 
the river to Radymno. 

The 8th Army carried the line south to Przemysl and then 
south-east to the Dniester marshes, eight miles north-east of 

The nth Army (XXIInd and XVIIIth Corps), now under 
General Shcherbachev, had been forced to abandon the Koziowa 
positions so long held by the XXIInd Corps against determined 
enemy attacks, and now held a line from Drohobucz north-west 
of Stryj to Sokolow. 

Further east the gth Army in a counter-offensive had crossed 
the Pruth, but had so far failed to take either Kolomea or 

Vladimir Dragomirov, who had succeeded Alexyeev as Chief 
of Staff to Ivanov at the Headquarters of the South- West Front, 
lost his nerve under the strain of directing the retreat, and was 
replaced by Savich, the Commander of the IVth Siberian Corps. 
The choice was hardly a happy one, for Savich had had no war 
service previous to the present war, and most of his appointments 
had been in connection with military communications. 

The Russian Supreme Command hurried to the danger-point 
such reinforcements as could be spared from all parts of the 
theatre of war. The XlVth Corps was sent across the Vistula 
from the 4th Army, the XVth Corps was transferred from the 
I2th Army, the XXIIIrd Corps, the Ilnd Caucasian Corps and 
the 77th Division from the ist Army, the I3th Siberian Division 
from the 2nd Army. 

The Vth Caucasian Corps, which had been practising embarka- 
tion and disembarkation at Odessa with a view to co-operation 
with our Dardanelles Expedition in a descent on the Bosphorus, 

286 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

was hurried off to the San about May 8th. The Chief of the 
General Staff at Petrograd assured me on June 6th that this corps 
had been replaced immediately by another, but I reported two 
days later that : 

" It should be clearly understood that no help from Russia 
is likely to be forthcoming in the forcing of the passage to 
the Black Sea. The corps which is said to be forming at 
Odessa will be drawn into the fighting-line on the western 
frontier long before the Russians decide to embark it 
for the Bosphorus. . . . The Grand Duke has still a task 
on the western frontier that will require every man he can 
arm till things take a decided change in the Western 

On May 2ist Neilson got another letter through. He wrote : 

" Situation easier. . . . Spirits of Staff have risen, but 
in the firing-line they are pretty fed up." 

The pause in the German offensive which caused the " easier 
situation ' was merely occasioned by Mackenzen's change of 
front from the north-east to the south-east. He had thrown no 
less than fifteen bridges across the San, and, developing his attack 
to the south-east on the 24th, he was already by the 28th in a 
position to threaten the Przemysl-Lemberg railway. The Hlrd 
Caucasian Corps, attacking his northern flank, stormed Sieniawa, 
capturing 9 guns and 6,000 prisoners, and then pressed south up 
the right bank of the San. This gallant corps was, however, 
reduced to 4,000 men, with one round per gun and 75 rounds per 
rifle, and even its iron-willed commander, Irmanov, had to 
acknowledge that it was too weak to continue its offensive. The 
8th Army was forced back, and Przemysl, left in a salient, was 
abandoned on the night of June 2nd. 

Meanwhile the Headquarters of the 3rd Army moved back 
from Tomashov to Zamostie, re-entering Russian territory for the 
first time since August, 1914. Radko Dimitriev was replaced in 
command by General Lesh from the Xllth Corps. Lesh had made 

April -August, 1915 287 

his name in the Japanese war in command of the ist Siberian 
Rifle Brigade. He afterwards commanded in succession the 
Guard Rifle Brigade, the 2nd Guard Infantry Division and the 
Ilnd Turkistan Corps, leaving the latter corps in Transcaspia at 
the outbreak of war to relieve Brusilov in command of the 
Xllth Corps. Previous to the war he had the reputation of being 
the greatest authority in Russia on infantry tactics, and during 
the war he had proved himself to be a capable corps commander, 
strong, cool and daring. 

After the fall of Przemysl the enemy's efforts in Galicia were 
for some days directed against the 8th and nth Armies, and the 
3rd Army, which no longer blocked the direct route to Lemberg, 
had a short breathing-space. Lesh massed four corps the 
XVth, IXth, Xth and XlVth in the Vistula-San triangle with 
the idea of advancing south against the enemy's communications 
in the neighbourhood of Rzeszow. The IVth Cavalry Corps, 
under Gillenschmidt, was held in readiness in rear of the IXth 
Corps. The latter corps, under its new commander, Abram 
Dragomirov, distinguished itself, and some little progress was at 
first made. 

The Cavalry Corps actually broke through, but only went five 
miles, retiring once more behind the infantry. The offensive was 
finally stopped by orders received from the Commander-in-Chief 
of the South-West Front, yet the movement was only opposed 
by Austrians, who are unlikely to have been in superior 

The 3rd and 8th Armies required a longer rest to re-establish 
their morale. Neilson, writing on June 6th from the 3rd Army, 
said : 

"This army is now a harmless mob. . . . Here are 
some of the strengths even after reinforcements have 
arrived since May I4th at the rate of 2,000 to 4,000 a day : 
1 2th Siberian Division, eighteen officers and 3,000 men ; 
Xth Corps, all three divisions together, 14,000 men. The 
XXI Xth Corps, which is the strongest in the Army, has 
20,000 men. The XXIIIrd Corps lost more than half its 
strength in an attack. The IXth Corps lost 3,500 men 

288 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

in three days. . . . We are very short of ammunition and 
guns. All realise the futility of sending men against the 
enemy, they with their artillery and we with ours/ 1 

On the other hand, he added : 

"The Germans are losing heavily. . . . Leshhasmadea 
very good impression cool, determined, imperturbable, 
utterly devoid of all wish to advertise. They say of his 
orders : ' He puts more in five lines than Radko Dimitriev 
put in five pages/ 

If the Russian Command had been able to place a large 
quantity of heavy artillery in the field they might have been 
able to restore the infantry's lost morale. As it was, Neilson wrote 
on June nth : 

" All the late advances have been pure murder, as we 
attacked against a large quantity of field and heavy artil- 
lery without adequate artillery preparation." 

In the same letter he gave a few extracts from telegrams 
despatched from the Staff of the 3rd Army to the Headquarters of 
the Front at Kholm. On June ist : 

" A shortage of ammunition is feared, so the artillery is 
unable to develop an effective fire." 

On another day : 

" As we are forced to save shell, the enemy can inflict 
loss unpunished/ 1 

Again : 

" The G.O.C. XVth Corps, having no heavy artillery, 

asked the neighbouring corps of the 4th Army, the XXXIst, 

to help him from the left bank of the Vistula. ... In front 

of the 4th Rifle Division the enemy has occupied a position 

from which he could easily be driven by artillery fire, but 

as ammunition has to be saved, nothing is being done/ 1 

The detail of the composition of the corps of the 3rd and 8th 

Armies about June loth shows the extent to which the Russian 

April- August, 1915 289 

Command had seized whatever units were available to fill up the 
gaps in the firing-line. 

3RD ARMY. Headquarters : Zamostie. Commander : Lesh. 
Tarnobrzeg on the Vistula to Cieszanow, north-east of 

On the left bank of the San : 

XVth Corps : 8th Division, 7th and 8th Trans-Amur 

Regiments, three drujini of 54th Opolchenie Brigade. 
IXth Corps : 5th and 42nd Divisions. 2ist, 25th and 26th 

Brigades of Opolchenie and four drujini of the 8ist 

XlVth Corps : i8th and yoth Divisions and two regiments 

of the 8oth Division. 
Xth Corps : gth, 3ist and 6ist Divisions ; 3rd Caucasian 

Cossack Cavalry Division. 

On the right bank of the San : 

Illrd Caucasian Corps : 2ist, 52nd and 8ist Divisions, 

27th Brigade of Opolchenie. 
XXIVth Corps : 48th, 4gth and 74th Divisions. 
XXIXth Corps : 45th and 77th Divisions. 
One division of heavy artillery from Ivangorod. 
IVth Cavalry Corps : 7th Cavalry Division, 3rd Don 

Cossack Cavalry Division and 2nd Composite Cossack 

Cavalry Division. 
i6th Cavalry Division. 

STH ARMY. Headquarters : Lemberg. Commander : Brusi- 
lov. Cieszanow by Jaworow and the Grodek Lakes to the 
Dniester marshes south of Komarno. 

Ilnd Caucasian Corps : Caucasian Grenadier and 5ist 


XXIIIrd Corps : 3rd Guard and 62nd Divisions. 
Vth Caucasian Corps : 3rd Caucasian Rifle Division, ist 

and 2nd Kuban Cossack Infantry Brigades. 


290 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

XXIst Corps : 3rd Rifle Division ; 33rd and 44th Divi- 
sions ; gist and I40th Regiments ; nth Cavalry 

Xllth Corps : igth Division ; two regiments of the I4th 
and two of the 6oth Division. 

VHIth Corps : I3th, I5th and 55th Divisions. 

XVIIth Corps : 3rd Division, 4th Rifle Division, I37th 
and 230th Regiments. 

XXVIIIth Corps : 23rd Division (less one regiment), one 
brigade of the 6oth Division. 

Vllth Corps : two regiments of the 34th Division, 258th 
Regiment ; the Orenburg Cossack Cavalry Division. 

ARMY RESERVE : 25gth, 232nd and 23ist Regiments. 

In the first invasion of Galicia the Russians had been well 
received by the Poles, but the population was now found to be 
bitterly hostile. It had been irritated by various mistakes made 
by the Russian civil Governor, Count Bobrinski, and especially 
by the efforts of the Orthodox Archbishop of Lemberg to prose- 
letise the Polish population. A Russian General said that this 
cleric's activities had been worth four additional army corps to 
the Austrians. 

The nth and gth Armies retired fighting to the bridgeheads 
of the Dniester. 

Mackenzen's thrust had set up a running sore that was draining 
the vital force of the Russian defence, but the enemy's advance on 
the Russian extreme right in Kurland now also called for serious 

During the first eight months of war the enemy had made no 
attempt in this direction. The Russian occupation of Memel on 
March i8th seems to have drawn the attention of the German 
Supreme Command to the advantages to be gained by an invasion 
of the Baltic Provinces. The Russian Expedition was a very 
futile affair, and the Opolchenie was driven out again on March 
23rd. The Germans, always nervous of any invasion of the home 
territory, sent a cavalry division across the Russian frontier to 

April-August, 1915 291 

prevent its recurrence. Kurland was found to be rich in supplies, 
and the German force was gradually increased, compelling the 
Russians to detach troops from their loth, I2th and 1st Armies 
to oppose the advance. The German Army of the Nyeman, as it 
came to be called, was always a " justifiable detachment," for it 
occupied an enemy force superior to its own strength, it weakened 
the long-drawn-out Russian front, and by its threat to Riga, the 
centre of the Russian steel industry, increased the confusion in 
the Russian rear organisation. 

The importance of the new German move was for a long time 
underrated. At the beginning of May the Chief of the General 
Staff at Petrograd still thought it was merely a foraging raid, and 
the General Quartermaster said that the Grand Duke was " per- 
fectly calm on the subject." 

The Russians had at first only weak detachments of Opolchenie 
in this area. Their cavalry was all elsewhere, some of it in the 
trenches, the rest vegetating in rear of the infantry in the various 
armies. Strong forces of Opolchenie were sent from Petrograd 
and Moscow, cavalry was directed against the enemy's right rear, 
and an army corps was brought round by rail from the North- 
West Front to Riga. 

In the latter half of May it was acknowledged that the Ger- 
man force in this area amounted to five divisions of infantry and 
seven and a half of cavalry. The general line occupied by the 
invading detachments ran from a point on the coast north of 
Libau in a south-easterly direction to west of Shavli and along 
the Dubisa to its junction with the Nyeman, halfway between 
Kovna and the German frontier. Libau, which had been 
abandoned by the Russians with scarcely a struggle, was soon 
fortified as a base and linked by narrow-gauge line with 

In early June there was something like a panic in Riga. The 
banks were removed. A committee was appointed to arrange for 
the evacuation of the civilian population and of such material as 
was likely to be of use to the enemy. All the important factories 
removed their plant to the east, and, owing to shortage of suitable 
accommodation elsewhere and defective organisation, many of 

292 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

them were unable to re-start work satisfactorily during the war. 
It was now fully recognised that the loss of Riga would be a 
greater loss materially than the loss of Warsaw. Unfortunately 
,the mere threat to Riga deprived the great manufacturing town 
of all usefulness for the national defence. 

In spite of the desperate situation in Galicia, where every 
bayonet was necessary to help in the defence of Lemberg, the 
Russian Command was forced to transfer two divisions (i2th 
Siberian and I3th Siberian) from Galicia to the north. General 
Plehve was moved from the command of the I2th Army at Lomja 
to Mitau to take command of a new 5th Army whose front ran 
from the Baltic to the junction of the Dubisa and Nyeman. He 
arrived at Riga on June loth, and there was placed at his disposal 
a force of over four corps and six cavalry divisions. Plehve's 
place at Lomja was taken by General Churin, who moved with 
his staff from the command of the former 5th Army at Mala Vyes 
on the Trans- Vistula front. The corps of the former 5th Army 
were incorporated with the 2nd Army, which now held the line of 
the Ravka as well as of the Bzura, the 4th Army, as before, con- 
tinuing the front from the Pilitsa to the Vistula. 

After a pause to fill up with men and munitions, the enemy re- 
sumed his advance in Galicia on June nth. Lemberg was occupied 
on the 22nd, the Russian 8th Army retiring east to the Western Bug 
and the Gnila Lipa, where defensive lines had been prepared. 
The Dniester above Halicz was abandoned. 

Meanwhile the 3rd Army, being obliged to defend the left rear 
of the Trans- Vistula armies, had to retire due north towards the 
Lyublin-Kholm railway. Mackenzen's advance on Zolkiew and 
Rawa Ruska turned the right of the 8th Army and forced the 
3rd and 8th Armies on to divergent lines of retreat. A detach- 
ment formed of troops drawn from the left of the 3rd and the right 
of the 8th Armies the XXIXth, Vth Caucasian, Hnd Caucasian 
and XXIIIrd Corps, with the IVth Cavalry Corps was set the 
difficult task of manoeuvring to maintain touch between the 
two armies. This detachment was at first commanded by General 
Olukhov from the XXIIIrd Corps, but was afterwards formed 

April -August, 1915 293 

into the i3th Army under General Gorbatovski, late Commander 
of the XlXth Corps. 

The main German advance was now directed against the line 
Vladimir Volinski-Kholm, i.e., against the isth Army, but any 
success in this direction made itself at once felt from the Pilitsa 
to the frontier of Rumania, and the 4th, 3rd, 8th, nth and gth 
Armies were compelled to conform to each retirement. The 
real work continued to be done by the Germans with their heavy 
guns, the Austrians merely filling in the gaps in the general front. 

The influence of the great Pripyat marsh already commenced 
to affect the Russian conduct of operations. It was foreseen that 
in this area, which is also called Polyesie, the movement of 
armies would be exceedingly difficult, and that the Russian 
force as they retired would be divided by it into two groups. 
For this reason the 3rd Army was handed over from the South- 
West to the North- West Front. 

M. Sazonov told the Ambassador that G.H.Q. considered that 
Warsaw would not be in danger for two months, but the official 
optimism was too obvious, and I reported on July 4th that the 
whole Vistula line would be necessarily abandoned within a 

Though the abandonment of Warsaw, with its wealth and its 
art treasures and its importance in the eyes of the Poles, was 
from every point of view lamentable, it was evident that the 
possession of the city was not a vital factor in the eventual 
success of the Russian arms, and the greater danger to the military 
observer seemed to be that the Russian Command might delay 
the disagreeable decision so long as to risk the cutting off of the 
Trans-Vistula armies. The event proved that these fears were 

It was evident that the mere occupation of Poland as long as 
the Russian army remained in being could not force Russia to 
her knees, and that if the Allies in the West were able to provide 
for its re-armament, the Russian army would once more take the 
offensive in the spring of 1916. The main problem of the next 
six to eight months seemed to be the re-armament of Russia. 

In spite of Russia's population of 180,000,000, the Russian 

294 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

army on the western frontier was at this time outnumbered in 
everything except the cavalry arm, for less than 100 very weak 
infantry divisions opposed sixty-six German and forty-five and a 
half Austrian divisions. M. Guchkov estimated Russia's losses 
up to the beginning of July at 3,800,000 in killed, wounded and 
missing. Owing to lack of rifles, the calling up of the 1916 Class, 
which had been proposed for June, was postponed. 

The Russian Command determined to make a supreme effort 
to check the progress of the Mackenzen phalanx, which was moving 
north on the Zamostie-Krasnostav-Kholm road. As in the Vistula 
battles in October, our allies had now the best of the com- 
munications, for the enemy advanced troops had behind them the 
roadless glacis of the Polish salient, while the Russian strategic 
railways should have made the transfer of their troops from 
north to south an easy matter. 

As a last resort three corps were transferred from the North- 
West Front. The Guard was taken from the I2th Army at 
Lomja. It travelled by the direct double line from Byelostok 
by Brest Litovsk, and completed its detrainment at Kholm on 
July 7th. The transfer of this corps of two and a half infantry 
divisions and one cavalry brigade took eleven days, chiefly owing 
to confusion arising from the fact that the railway north of Brest 
was under the administrative staff of the North- West Front, while 
that to the south was under the South- West Front. 

The Ilnd Siberian Corps from the ist Army in the neighbour- 
hood of Tsyekhanov moved via Malkin and Syedlets, and the Vlth 
Siberian Corps from the 2nd Army on the Bzura railed by Ivan- 
gorod, and both corps were detrained between Lyublin and 

On July 8th the 4th Army administered a useful check to the 
Austrian army of the Archduke Joseph Ferdinand. The Aus- 
trians were advancing from Krasnik on Lyublin, when Ewarth 
threw his reserve, consisting of four regiments drawn from 
different divisions, on their flank from the north-west and drove 
them back several versts, taking 17,000 prisoners. This tempo- 
rary success delayed the advance of the enemy, who were indeed 

April-August, 1915 295 

only kept in movement by the German troops, inserted at this 
time in no less than eighteen different places from the Pilitsa to 
the Rumanian frontier. 

On July i6th I left Warsaw for the last time. The general 
population seemed to have little knowledge of the actual situation. 
My Diary of July I2th contains the remark : 

It is said that Lesh will commence an offensive on 
Wednesday or Thursday (the I4th or I5th). I personally 
think that the Russians will delay, and it will be a German 

General Turbin, the Military Commandant, was as jovial and 
optimistic as ever. I suggested to him that the 2nd Army had 
been dangerously weakened, but he replied that it had no one in 
front of it but " hooligans with gases." The civil Governor, 
Prince Engalichev, professed to believe that the Germans had 
already left the Lyublin Government to commence some other 
operation ! On the I5th we learned that the Germans had com- 
menced their offensive on the Narev on the I3th, and that the 
Russians had retired to a second line of defence between the 
rivers Orjits and Lidinya, yet even this made no impression, 
and an acquaintance actually said that the Russian 
Command had hoped that the Germans were going to attack on 
the Narev front. 

I was convinced, however, that Warsaw was doomed, and 
grew sentimental as I walked for the last time in the Lazienki 
Gardens and tried to imagine what they would look like in 
German occupation. 

I spent the night of July i6th at the Headquarters of the 
North- West Front at Syedlets to try to get some idea of the 
general situation. General Gulevich, the Chief of Staff, was 
naturally worried and nervous. He said the Germans were 
attacking everywhere. " C'est le combat general." They were 
suffering heavy losses, but so were we from their heavy artillery. 
Two divisions had been cut to pieces on the South- West Front ; 
the companies were over war strength and now they numbered 
twenty men each. I was indiscreet enough to ask whether it 

296 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

had been decided yet to abandon Warsaw, but he replied simply : 
" Nous luttons." I felt very much de trop, for the time was 
naturally one of great tension, especially for Gulevich, who as 
Chief of Staff had to direct the operations of no less than seven 
armies from the Baltic to South-East Poland : the 5th, loth, 
I2th, ist, 2nd, 4th and 3rd. 

It was rumoured in Syedlets that a new " Northern Front ' 
was to be created and that the command was to be given to 
General Ruzski. He was to control three armies with the object 
of defending the approaches to Riga and Dvinsk. Certain 
members of the Staff at Syedlets keenly regretted Ruzski's de- 
parture. They held that while Alexyeev had done excellent work 
as Chief of Staff to Ivanov, he lacked sufficient confidence in his 
own judgment to be a good commander-in-chief. He kept by 
him two aged mentors, who had no official position, but whom 
he consulted in everything General Palitsin, who had been Chief 
of the General Staff five years previously, and a certain General 
Borisov, an authority on the Napoleonic wars. 

I motored from Syedlets to Kholm on July I7th and joined 
the Staff of the Guard Corps, which I found in a large girls' 
school. The whole road from Vlodava to Kholm was covered by 
columns of poor refugees of both sexes and every age, who had 
been forced by the Russians to leave their homes before the 
German advance. The harvest was being got in, but slowly, as 
most of the men of serving age had been evacuated to the east. 

I dined with Neilson at the Staff of the 3rd Army, and sat 
next Lesh. I asked him on what line he was going to retreat, 
but he would not hear of retreat, and said he was going to attack. 

The composition of the Russian armies is believed to have been 
as follows at the middle of July : 

NORTH-WEST FRONT. Headquarters : Syedlets. Commander : 
General Alexyeev. Chief of Staff : General Gulevich. 
Front : Baltic to Kholm. 

5TH ARMY. General Plehve. Chief of Staff: General 
Miller. Headquarters : Riga. Front : Gulf of Riga to 

April -August, 1915 297 

Tukhum Detachment. 

Opolchenie Detachments. 

Ussuri Cavalry Brigade. 

Cavalry School Brigade. 

4th Don Cossack Cavalry Division. 

3rd Cavalry Division. 

3rd Turkistan Division. 

I2th and I3th Siberian Divisions. 

5th Rifle Division. 

XlXth Corps (near Shavli). 

Illrd Corps. 

5th and 3rd Cavalry Divisions. 

XXXVIIth Corps. One brigade of the XHIth Corps. 

I5th Cavalry Division. 

1st Guard Cavalry Division. 

Kuban Cossack Cavalry Division. 

IOTH ARMY. General Radke vich. Chief of Staff : General 
Popov. Headquarters : Grodna. Front : Kovna 
to Osovets (exclusive). 

Illrd Siberian Corps. 

XXXI Vth Corps. 

Ilnd Corps. 

XXVIth Corps. 

XXth Corps. 

I2TH ARMY. General Churin. Chief of Staff: General 
Sievers. Headquarters : Zambrov. Front : Oso- 
vets to River Orjits. 
57th Division (garrison of Osovets). 
1st Corps. 
Vth Corps. 
IVth Siberian Corps. 

IST ARMY. General Lit vino v. Chief of Staff: General 
Odishelidze. Headquarters : Yablonna (north of 
Warsaw). Front : River Orjits to lower Vistula. 

1st Siberian Corps. 

1st Turkistan Corps. 

298 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

IVth Corps. 

XXVIIth Corps. 

I4th, 8th and 6th Cavalry Divisions. 

2ND ARMY. General Smirnov. Headquarters : Warsaw. 

Front : Lower Vistula to Gura Kalvariya. 
Vth Siberian Corps. 
XXXVth Corps. 
XXXVIth Corps. : v 

4TH ARMY. General Ewarth. Headquarters : Ivangorod. 

Front : North-west of Ivangorod-Kasimerj-Opole to 

ten versts south of Lyublin. 
XVIth Corps. ' -;. '," < 

Grenadier Corps. 

XXVth Corps. ; ,, 

XVth Corps. 
Vlth Siberian Corps. 

3RD ARMY. General Lesh. Chief of Staff : General 
Baiov. Headquarters : Kholm. Front : South 
of Lyublin to Voislavitse, south of Kholm. 

IXth Corps. 

Xth Corps. 

Ilnd Siberian Corps. 

Illrd Caucasian Corps. 

XlVth Corps. 

XXIVth Corps. 

With Cavalry : 2nd Combined Cossack Cavalry Divi- 
sion ; 3rd Caucasian Cossack Cavalry Division. 

In Reserve : Guard Corps. 

SOUTH-WEST FRONT: General Ivanov. Chief of Staff: 
Savich. Headquarters: Rovno. Front: Voislavitse 
to the Rumanian frontier. 

I3TH ARMY. General Gorbatovski. Chief of Staff : Gen- 
eral Byelyaev. Headquarters : Kovel. Front : 
Voislavitse to north-east of Sokal. 
Ilnd Caucasian Corps. 

April-August, 1915 299 

Vth Caucasian Corps. 

XXIXth Corps. 

3rd Don Cossack Cavalry Division. 

i6th Cavalry Division. 

2nd Guard Cavalry Division. 

XXIIIrd Corps. 

XXXVIIIth Corps. 

XXXIst Corps. 

STH ARMY. General Brusilov. Headquarters : Brody. 

Front : North-east of Sokal to west of Zloczow. 
XVIIth Corps. 
Xllth Corps. 
XXVIIIth Corps. 
Vllth Corps. 
Vlllth Corps. 

IITH ARMY. General Shcherbachev. Chief of Staff: 
General Golovin. Headquarters : Tarnopol. Front : 
West of Zloczow to Nizniow. 

Vlth Corps. 

XVIIIth Corps. 

XXIInd Corps. 

QTH ARMY. General Lechitski. Chief of Staff: General 
Sanikov. Headquarters : Gusyatin. Front : 
Nizniow to Khotin. 

Xlth Corps. 

XXXth Corps. 

XXXIIIrd Corps. 

Ilnd Cavalry Corps. 

Illrd Cavalry Corps. 

XXXIInd Corps. 

The opinion was strongly held in the Staff of the 3rd Army 
that if the Ilnd Siberian and Guard Corps, both of which were 
considerably over war strength, had been launched at once, i.e., 
about July gth or loth, against the head of Mackenzen's army, 
they would have carried the remnants of the 3rd Army with them 

300 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

and a general success would have been scored. I think this is 
doubtful. The enemy had naturally fortified his position during 
the halt to await reinforcements. The following divisions lay 
from left to right against the 3rd Russian Army : 

45th Austrian 44th German 

nth Austrian ist Prussian Guard 

igth German 2nd Prussian Guard 

20th German 22nd German 

ngth German 3gth Austrian 

43rd German I2th Austrian 

i.e., eight German and four Austrian divisions, with, it was 
believed, an additional German and an additional Austrian 
division in rear. The Russian General Staff credited this force 
with a total of 155 to 160 battalions, or 115,000 to I20,ooobayonets. 
This estimate was probably exaggerated, but it must be remem- 
bered that, though the enemy divisions had suffered considerable 
losses, their strength was never allowed to drop to the danger- 
ously anaemic condition that had become chronic in Russian 

To oppose Mackenzen the 3rd Army had in line : 

IXth Corps : 5th and 42nd Divisions . . . . . . 6,000 

Xth Corps : gth and 66th Divisions . . . . . . 2,000 

Illrd Caucasian Corps : 2ist and 52nd Divisions . . 2,000 
XlVth Corps : i8th and 70th Divisions . . . . 8,000 

XXIVth Corps : 48th and 4gth Divisions . . . . 7,000 

and in second line : 


Ilnd Siberian Corps : 4th and 5th Siberian Divisions . . 32,000 
Guard Corps : ist and 2nd Guard Divisions and Guard 

Rifle Brigade ... . . . . . . . . 40,000 

and two and a half divisions of Cossack cavalry, i.e., fourteen and 
a half divisions of infantry containing nominally 232 battalions, 
but really only 97,000 bayonets. 










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Polish chateau at Reiovets. Staff of the Guard Corps 18th-31st July. 

[See page 301 

22nd July, 1915. General Bezobrazov thanking the 3rd and 4th Guard 

Rifle Regiments for their services. 

[See page 302 

April-August, 1915 301 

The Russian formations in front line were merely skeletons, 
and their morale had been severely shaken by two and a half 
months of constant retreat. For instance, a report on July ijth 
from one corps stated that " superhuman efforts were required to 
keep the men in the trenches/' The enemy was overwhelmingly 
superior in number of guns and in ammunition supply. 

Whether such a counterstroke had any real chance of success 
or not, the higher authorities had no intention of risking every- 
thing on what they evidently considered a desperate venture. 
It is said that Danilov, the General Quartermaster at G.H.Q., 
considered it useless to commence an offensive which lack of 
shell prevented from being fought out to a conclusion. Alexyeev 
tried to retain the corps transferred from the north as long as 
possible under his personal control, and only dealt out units 
sparingly as local palliatives. The Vlth Siberian Corps was first 
assigned to the 4th Army, and went into action on the left of that 
army to defend the approaches to Lyublin. 

Lesh telegraphed three times in a single day imploring 
Alexyeev to give him the Ilnd Siberian and Guard Corps, but 
Alexyeev refused. 

On the afternoon of the I5th Mackenzen once more advanced, 
and the Russian trenches were soon destroyed by heavy gun-fire. 
On the i6th the Xth Corps and the Illrd Caucasian Corps were 
driven in, and the Ilnd Siberian Corps was at last placed at Lesh's 
disposal. Radko Dimitriev, who commanded it, received orders 
to incorporate the Xth Corps with his own and to attack on the 
I7th. A brigade of the Guard took over the line previously held 
by the Illrd Caucasian Corps. 

Radko, after advancing a short distance, was forced back. On 
the i8th the Staff of the Guard Corps moved from Kholm south- 
west to Reiovets, and threw a division into the line to stop a gap 
north of Krasnostav. 

The staff was lodged at Reiovets in a fine Polish chateau. 
Its work was poor. General Bezobrazov had no longer Colonel 
Domanevski to lean on, for that able staff officer had gone to 
command a regiment in the I4th Cavalry Division. Count 
Nostitz, who, though he did little work, was at any rate 

302 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

intelligent and tactful, had been stelleribosched to Petrograd, where 
he remained till the end of the war employed by the General Staff 
to count the casualties in the German army. His successor, 
General Antipov, was less intelligent ; his energy was only devoted 
to meddling, and he had no influence with his chief. Bezobrazov 
had, in fact, no adviser of sufficiently strong character to make his 
influence felt, and he therefore gave free rein to a somewhat in- 
subordinate disposition. Beloved by those who served under 
him, he had, on the other hand, quarrelled with every army 
commander with whom he had come in contact, first with 
Lechitski and then with Plehve. He resented the idea of serving 
under Lesh, who in peace had commanded a division of the Guard 
under his orders. On the i8th he asked Lesh by telephone to 
give him back the 2nd Guard Infantry Division, then held as Army 
Reserve, to enable him to take the offensive. Lesh refused, and 
the fact that at this moment the XlVth and XXIVth Corps on the 
left of the army had only ten rounds per rifle and seventy rounds 
per gun left seems sufficient reason for his refusal. The refusal, 
however, started the inevitable quarrel. 

On this day for the first time in history the Russian Guard 
met the Prussian Guard. The Russian Guard held its own, but 
on its right the Hlrd Caucasian Corps and on its left the XlVth 
Corps gave way. At 10 p.m. orders were issued for the whole 
Russian line to retire from six to eleven versts to the north. 

The Hlrd Caucasian Corps and the Xth Corps were withdrawn 
from the line to re-form. In the next few days the enemy con- 
tented himself with pounding in turn with his heavy artillery 
different sections of the line. 

The Guard had at this time ninety field guns, twelve 4-8" 
howitzers, eight 4*2* guns, four 6" howitzers and four 6' Schneider 
guns. It had a sufficiency of shell, as had the Ilnd Siberian 
Corps, but the other corps had little. The German guns 
dominated the situation. 

On the 22nd I accompanied General Bezobrazov when he 
rode to the support line to thank the Izmailovski Regiment and 
the 3rd and 4th Regiments of the Rifle Brigade of the Guard for 
their services in the recent fighting. The Izmailovski had lost 

April-August, 1915 303 

about 30 per cent, and the two rifle regiments about 60 per cent. 
The General said a few words of warm praise to such men as could 
be collected. We returned to the Staff late for the mess meal, so 
the General asked me to dine in his room. While dining he 
complained of Lesh's refusal to allow him to attack on the i8th, 
and Engelhardt interposed with the remark that he might have 
attacked without asking permission at all. 

That evening at 7 p.m. Bezobrazov received a telegram from 
Lesh that he " was glad to be able to grant his request," and that 
he could attack at i a.m. on the 23rd. 

Bezobrazov, however, considered that the moment for attack 
had now passed, as the Guard had by this time lost a considerable 
number of men. He sent an insubordinate reply to his Army 
Commander, characterising the order to attack in the night as an 
" absurd " one that would cause useless waste of life. He issued 
no orders till 12.30 a.m., and then of so undecided a character that 
one of the divisional commanders telephoned to ask if a real 
attack was intended or only a " make-believe." The result was 
as might have been expected. The IXth Corps and the Ilnd 
Siberian Corps on the right of the Guard advanced several miles 
and took fourteen enemy guns, but were forced eventually to 
retire with heavy loss. The XlVth and XXIVth Corps on the 
left had been ordered to await the development of the attack of 
the Guard, and, as that never really developed at all, they did not 

Such disobedience of orders in the face of the enemy 
was more than could be stood even from the Com- 
mander of the Guard, and Bezobrazov was removed from his 
command to give place to General Olukhov, from the XXIIIrd 
Corps. He drove away from Reiovets on the morning of the 
25th, leaving behind him the overgrown Staff very nervous as to 
whether it would be pruned down to establishment, but hopeful 
that as Olukhov had " served in the Guard, he would understand 
matters," and allow irregularities to continue. 

General Olukhov arrived on the 28th, and wisely refrained for 
the present from disturbing the Staff. 

On the 30th, before the new Commander had had time to 

304 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

appreciate the incompetence of his Chief of Staff, the Germans 
commenced bombarding the 5th Siberian Division on his im- 
mediate right, north-west of Krasnostav. The shelling continued 
from 2 a.m. till n a.m., and the Guard made no attempt to help. 
At I p.m. the Chief of Staff said that the Siberians were holding 
their position. As a matter of fact, they were then in full retreat. 
About 2.30 p.m. Captain Neilson, motoring along the chaussee 
from Lyublin, came under heavy shrapnel fire, and saw the Xth 
Corps going forward to reinforce the Siberians, who were retreating 
in disorder. Considerably later in the afternoon the Army Staff 
knew nothing of the German penetration. The Cossack Brigade 
of the Guard, which was in the trenches on the immediate left of 
the Siberians, seems to have sent in no reports. Only at 5.30 a 
message reached the Guard Staff from Radko Dimitriev that the 
5th Siberian Division, " in spite of heroic resistance, had been 
forced to retire." General Antipov even then failed to realise 
the seriousness of the situation, and continued to draw up a table 
of work for the members of the Staff. At 6 p.m. he received a 
report from the Army Staff to the effect that the Germans had 
crossed the Vyeprj. They had penetrated north through Travnik, 
severing the Kholm-Lyublin railway and chaussee. Their advance 
north was checked by the Xth Corps, which consisted of two weak 
composite regiments, about 3 p.m., and some hours later their 
move east, which threatened to outflank the Guard, was checked 
by the seven battalions of the Guard Reserve. 

The situation, however, remained serious, for little reliance 
could be placed on the power of resistance of the Xth Corps. 
Antipov was much blamed for the def ectiveness of the communica- 
tions and for his failure to co-operate with the Siberians in time 
by striking at the right flank of the pursuing Germans. He was 
not flurried, only quietly incapable. Second lieutenants offered 
their advice, and he listened but did nothing. At last, at 1.30 a.m. 
on the 3ist, orders were received from the Staff of the Army for 
the whole army to retire at 3 a.m. fifteen versts to the north. 

I occupied a room at the top of the house with three other 
officers, and was preparing to turn in when Rodzianko came up 
to tell me that it was of no use to go to bed. He was in a towering 

April-August, 1915 305 

rage, and cursed the Chief of Staff freely, saying that things were 
going on in the Staff of the Guard Corps that were a disgrace to 
the Russian army. Another of my stable companions, old 

Colonel L , a retired officer of the Guard cavalry, who hailed 

from the Baltic Provinces, called aloud for his sabre in fluent 
French with a slight German accent, exclaiming that the Guard 
could only die where it stood but could never retreat. When we 
were left alone he burst into invective against the Russians, " who 
could never be trusted," and asserted that in the troublous times 
of 1905 the Russians themselves had incited his Lettish tenantry 
to burn his chateau. 

Most of the Staff went off by car at 3 a.m. to Army Head- 
quarters in order to maintain touch with the neighbouring corps 
pending the opening up of telephonic communication from oui 
next halting-place. I remained behind till 6 a.m. to see some- 
thing of the retirement. The troops went back in good order and 
the Germans did not press. The captive balloon was almost 
forgotten, but was remembered by a junior officer at the last 
moment. Many officers sympathised with the poor landowner 
who had been our host. He wanted to remain behind, but 
Colonel Lallin, the Commandant of the Staff, spoke to him 
brutally, telling him that if he remained it would simply prove 
that he was in sympathy with the enemy. The wily Pole, 
however, remained, and indeed it was the only possible way of 
saving his property. Nearly all the poorer inhabitants left with 
the troops. We saw the most pathetic sights whole families 
with all their little worldly belongings piled on carts ; two carts 
tied together and drawn by a single miserable horse ; one family 
driving a cow ; a poor old man and his wife each with a huge 
bundle of rubbish tied up in a sheet and slung on the back. I 
took a photograph of three Jews, who thought their last hour had 
come when told to stop. 

As usual, there was everywhere evidence of misdirected or 
undirected effort. The gendarmes, without an officer to direct 
them, ran about setting fire to piles of dry straw, but leaving the 
crops untouched. Eight large barrels of copper parts from the 
machinery of a local factory had been collected with infinite 


306 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

trouble, but they were characteristically left behind owing to a 
doubt as to whose duty it was to remove them. I heard two small 
explosions on the railway, but the curves, and even the telegraph, 
were untouched at the point where I rode across the line, and it is 
very unlikely that any demolition was carried out later. 

I overtook a young artillery officer and rode with him till we 
got hungry and stopped in a village to forage. We drank weak 
tea and ate eggs and bread in a clean cottage. Our hostesses were 
three old sisters and the daughter of one of them, and they cried 
the whole time, they so feared the coming of the Germans. 

The losses in the two and a half divisions of the Guard in the 
fighting from the i8th till the 28th (inclusive) were : 

Killed .. .. 28 I A9 

Wounded . . 109 6,409 

Missing . . . . 3 1,480 

On August ist the Guard had still 150 shell per field gun, 
500 per 4*2" gun, 500 per 6" howitzer and 800 per 6" gun. Other 
corps in the army were in much worse case. They were occasion- 
ally sent a " present " of shell, but they certainly did not get as 
much as the Guard, who had a duke as Inspector of Artillery. 

The Guard Corps, having had its flank turned on the 30th 
through the giving way of the Ilnd Siberian Corps, was anxious 
to avoid similar risks in future, and telegraphed at i p.m. on 
August ist to the Army Staff that the Xth Corps was short of 
rifle cartridges and only had two rounds per heavy gun, so would 
be forced to retire if attacked. Lesh replied at 7 p.m. in a tele- 
gram addressed to the Commanders of the Guard and Xth Corps : 
" I must ask corps commanders to refrain from disturbing one 
another with panic reports. The corps are not to retire on any 
account a yard from the line they now occupy.' 1 

However, three hours later at 10 p.m. the whole of the 3rd 
Army was ordered to commence retiring at i a.m. on the 2nd, as 
the enemy had penetrated between the Ilnd and Vth Caucasian 
Corps on the right of the I3th Army. 

April-August, 1915 307 

As the troops were to move at i a.m., the Chief of Staff 
ordered the Staff to pack up to be ready to move at the same 
time. When we had all packed, a young and intelligent second 
lieutenant suggested to him that there was nothing to be gained 
by the Staff moving at night. He assented, so we all unpacked 
and slept comfortably till 7 a.m., when we rode north to Gansk. 

This false alarm was unlucky for my mounted orderly, a fine 
Cuirassier of the Guard, who was with me most of the war. 

A large part of the revenues of the Polish landowners is 
derived from alcohol, which is distilled on every estate from 
potatoes. At each halting-place during the retreat we destroyed 
the spirit, which would have proved too dangerous a temptation 
to the retreating troops. At Khilin, where we were on August 
ist, the spirit was run along a channel to a marsh, and guarded 
during the process by numerous sentries with fixed bayonets, 
while idle men looked on thirstily. As usual, the sentries were 
posted without much intelligence, and certain adventurous in- 
dividuals found a hole in the wall at the other side of the distillery 
and drank some of the raw spirit from their forage caps. My 
orderly was one of these, and when he failed to turn up at mid- 
night was discovered dead drunk in the stable. Next day he ex- 
plained that he had been affected by some " strong tea." His head 
must have been^sufftcient lesson, and I did not have him punished. 

Lyublin was abandoned by the 4th Army on the night of 
July 3ist and Kholm by the 3rd Army on August ist. The Staffs 
moved back to Radin and Vlodava respectively. The Russian 
advanced left wing, which comprised the 4th, 3rd and I3th Armies, 
was now engaged in a great wheel to the east preliminary to the 
evacuation of the Polish salient. This wheel had been planned 
beforehand, and several lines of entrenchments had been prepared 
to delay the enemy pending the retreat of the troops from the 
trans-Vistula front. The positions had been prepared by local 
and prisoner labour. Unfortunately, though in some cases they 
were more up to date than any defences yet seen in Russia, they 
were never completed in time for the occupation of the troops. 
Organisation had failed to calculate the time available and to 
provide the necessary men and labour for the completion of the 

3o8 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

work. I asked General Podimov, the Corps Engineer of the 
Guard, why we could not make use of the hundreds of transport 
drivers and others who were attached to the corps, but he said : 
" You might as well offer me an inch of cloth when my breeches 
are torn right across." 

The summer had been unfortunately dry, and most of the 
large marshes were passable for infantry in open order. 

On August 4th the Staff calculated that the enemy had 
fourteen German and four Austrian divisions against the 3rd 
Army, which certainly did not exceed the equivalent of seven and 
a half divisions in bayonets. The Russian losses in men had been 
very heavy, for corps had been constantly withdrawn to be filled 
up and sent once more into the line. The want of really good 
officers to keep the men in the trenches was being felt. We had 
failed to stem the German advance chiefly owing to lack of shell, 
but it must be confessed that any chance we had was lessened by 
the lack of intelligent co-operation between corps commanders. 

On the other hand, Mackenzen had taken seventeen days to 
advance twenty-five miles north-east by north from Krasnostav, 
and it was only by an enormous expenditure of shell that he was 
enabled to move forward at all. German prisoners complained 
that they were over-tired, and they certainly looked it. 

While the deplorable state of our armament made a prolonged 
defensive impossible, there seemed, on the other hand, little 
danger that the enemy would penetrate this part of the front and 
so endanger the general withdrawal from Poland. I therefore 
applied for and obtained permission to move to the Staff of the 
ist Army. 

On August 5th, my last day with the Guard, I lunched with 
Count Ignatiev, the Commander of the Preobrajenski Regiment, 
at the mess of a battalion in support in a wood about 1,000 yards 
from the firing-line. This fine regiment retained its spirit and its 
organisation. We ate from a camp-table covered with a clean 
cloth, and there was certainly no sign of depression. 

It was rumoured that Mitau and Lomja x had been lost, but 

1 As regards Lomja, this was only " intelligent anticipation of coming 

April -August, 1915 309 

the Russians were quite happy. They said : " We will retire to 
the Urals, and when we get there the enemy's pursuing army will 
have dwindled to a single German and a single Austrian ; the 
Austrian will, according to custom, give himself up as a prisoner, 
and we will kill the German." The first part of the remark was 
strangely prophetic. Honest soldiers had confidence in Russia's 
immense pathless spaces they never dreamt of the coming 
internal crash. 

At the Staff of the 3rd Army at Vlodava on the 6th I learned 
that Warsaw had been abandoned on the night of the 4th and 
Ivangorod on the night of the 5th. The 2nd Army had been 
ordered to move on the night of the 6th to the line Radimin-Novi 
Minsk-Garvolin, whence the 4th Army continued the line to the 
right of the 3rd Army. 

On August 7th I drove across to join the Staff of the 1st Army 
at Sokolov. On the way I stopped for lunch with the Staff of 
the 4th Army at Radin. I found it in an enormous Polish 
chateau. The officers were more depressed than I had ever seen 
Russians. There was dead silence as I walked up the huge dining- 
hall. I felt I was up against a certain hostile feeling, partly as a 
foreigner and unbidden witness of Russia's difficulty, and partly as 
the representative of the Western Allies, who, to many Russian 
minds, seemed by their inaction to be poorly repaying the Grand 
Duke's sacrifices to serve us a year earlier. Ewarth, the Com- 
mander, who was a fine soldier, reminded me that we had last 
met at Kyeltsi at the time of the November advance as he put it, 
" in happier times." He said : "It is all a matter of shell. A 
Russian corps will beat a German corps any day, given equality of 

The Staff of the 2nd Army was arriving at Syedlets from Novi 
Minsk as I passed through. The stations at both Novi Minsk 
and Syedlets had been bombarded by a Zeppelin on the previous 
night and several casualties had been caused in the train of the 
General Staff of the North- West Front, which had been about to 
leave the latter station for Volkovisk. 

The Staff of the 1st Army was in a factory at Sokolov, and there 
I met for the first time the Commander, General Litvinov, who 

310 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

had been promoted from the command of the Vth Corps in 
November to succeed Rennenkampf. He was in poor health, and 
had the reputation of leaving all decisions to his Chief of Staff. 
This, however, was not altogether true, for he kept himself 
thoroughly informed of everything in his arm}/, and nothing was 
done without his sanction. The Chief of Staff was the Georgian 
Odishelidze, and the General Quartermaster Richkov, by birth 
half an Armenian. They were close personal friends, and I had 
met both in Turkistan in 1913. Richkov was then Chief of Staff 
of a brigade at manoeuvres. I had lunched with Odishelidze, 
who was Governor of Samarkand, where he had a ten-acre garden 
in the centre of the cantonment. He was a close friend of Sam- 
sonov, who had a high opinion of his ability. He was exception- 
ally clever and really directed operations, but was not altogether 
popular with Russians, who spoke of him as " cunning." 

Since the beginning of March the 1st Army, with Head- 
quarters at Yablonna, north of Warsaw, had held a front from 
Ednorojets on the river Orjits to the lower Vistula. It was the 
staff of this army that had directed the Prasnish operation in 
March, the most brilliant Russian performance so far in the war. 
Its strength had since then been much weakened. The Ilnd 
Caucasian Corps and the XXIIIrd Corps had gone south to the 
3rd Army in June, and in July, about ten days before the German 
attack, they had been followed by the Ilnd Siberian Corps. 

Previous to the weakening of his army by these transfers, 
Litvinov had asked for permission to take the offensive. He was 
told that he would best serve the Russian cause by remaining still 
and economising shell. 

In the first part of July the 1st Army occupied a line from 
the north-east of Prasnish by the north of Tsyekhanov and ten 
versts south of Drobin to the Vistula, about twenty versts south- 
east of Plotsk, with the following troops from right to left : 

ist Siberian Corps (Plyeshkov) : ist Siberian and 2nd Siberian 

ist Turkistan Corps (Scheidemann) : ist and 2nd Turkistan 

Rifle Brigades ; nth Siberian Division. 

31st July, 1915. Jewish fugitives, escaping from Reiovets. 

[See page 305 

1st August, 1915. Khilim, South Poland. Col. L., a Baltic Baron. 

To face page 310] [See page 305 

27th July, 1915. Typical faces, II. Siberian Corps. 

[See page 304 

12th August, 1915. General Balanin, Commander of the XXVIIth Corps. 

[See page 330 

April-August, 1915 311 

XXVIIth Corps (Balanin) : 2nd and 76th Divisions ; ist 

Rifle Brigade. 
Ist Cavalry Corps (Oranovski) : 6th, 8th and I4th Cavalry 


The troops had entrenched the line they occupied. 

There were in addition certain detachments echeloned along 
the Vistula in rear of the left flank. 

The German offensive was expected, for information had been 
received that the frontier stations of Willenberg, Soldau and 
Neidenburg were being enlarged. 

After a feint along the Vistula, the Germans commenced their 
usual hurricane bombardment on the line north of Prasnish and 
Tsyekhanov on July I2th. They had no difficulty in ammunition 
supply with their long train of automobiles, for the weather had 
been dry and the roads were at their best. The ist Army was 
hopelessly weak in heavy artillery. For instance, north of 
Tsyekhanov the Ist Turkistan Corps had to fight forty-two enemy 
guns of big calibre with only two. As a result the nth Siberian 
Division was practically destroyed. The enemy was in greatly 
superior strength, concentrating eight divisions against the line 

The German preponderance in heavy artillery caused some- 
thing of a panic. The attack was delivered on July I3th, and on 
that night the Russians retired without pausing to defend a 
second defensive line that had been prepared by engineers im- 
mediately north of Prasnish and Tsyekhanov by Plonsk to 
Chervinsk. During the retirement the enemy's cavalry broke 
through east of Tsyekhanov and fell upon the transport. 

On the i6th the line Makov-Naselsk-Novo Georgievsk was 
reached. The IVth Corps began to arrive by rail from Warsaw, 
and units were pushed into the battle as they detrained. Though 
this line had been fortified in advance, the Russians were com- 
pelled to retire on the night of the i8th to the Narev. On the 
right of the ist Army the left of the I2th Army similarly retired. 
The Vth Corps was in action north of Novogrod, the IVth Siberian 
Corps at Ostrolenka bridgehead. The XXIst Corps, which had 

312 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

been re-forming in rear after its destruction on the San, arrived, 
and was detrained to defend the Rojan bridgehead. The 1st 
Siberian Corps continued the line to the left, and the IVth Corps, 
together with the remains of the 1st Turkistan Corps, defended 
the bridgehead at Pultusk and the Serotsk re-entrant. 

An immense amount of labour had been expended on these 
works in the spring. The Rojan bridgehead, in particular, was 
considered very strong. The crossing was covered on a radius 
of three and a half versts by three permanent works of modern 
profile, and these were linked up by field-trench. Three 
versts further in advance there was an advanced line of field- 

A delay was gained by a fine charge by the 8th and I4th 
Cavalry Divisions, who had been brought round from the left 
flank and who forded the Narev in the re-entrant between Rojan 
and Pultusk and drove three enemy columns some distance north 
in disorder. 

The enemy first forced a passage south of Pultusk and ad- 
vanced to the Serotsk works at the confluence of the Bug and the 
Narev. His heavy artillery, with six shots, reduced Dembe, a 
fort on the river halfway from Serotsk to Novo Georgievsk that 
the Russians had considered exceptionally strong. His progress 
was delayed by the arrival of the XXVIIth Corps, which the 
shortening of his front had enabled Litvinov to bring up from his 
left by rail through Warsaw. The corps succeeded in defending 
for some days the approaches to Vishkov, an important road 
centre on the Bug. 

The forcing of the bridgeheads at Ostrolenka and Rojan was, 
however, from the enemy's point of view, of greater importance, 
for excellent chaussees lead from both towns to Ostrov. Ostrov 
once gained, the so-called Cherboni Bor position, a line of wooded 
heights which had been reconnoitred in peace with a view to 
defence, as well as the river Bug, would have to be turned as a 
necessary preliminary to an advance further east. 

The defences of Rojan were quickly swept away by the 
enemy's heavy artillery, and the XXIst Corps retired to the 
southern bank, losing heavily in its further retreat from the 

April- August, 1915 313 

enemy's field guns, which had been at once carried forward to the 
commanding right bank. 

The Narev had now been forced, but the enemy's offensive on 
this flank, successful as it had proved, was, according to Gulevich, 
the Chief of Staff of the North- West Front, only a contributing, 
and not the immediate, cause of the evacuation of Warsaw. 

After the whole of the 4th Army had withdrawn to the right 
bank of the Vistula the enemy succeeded in effecting a crossing 
halfway between Gura Kalvariya and Ivangorod. He at first 
threw a division across, and the 2nd Army countered by crossing 
its left corps, the XXXVIth, at Gura Kalvariya. The enemy's 
force on the right bank was increased to three divisions, and the 
XXXVth Corps followed the XXXVIth. The XXXVIth Corps 
had completed its crossing by July 3ist and the XXXVth by 
August 3rd. Gulevich told me that it was only when the enemy 
had four whole divisions on the right bank that the decision to 
evacuate Warsaw was finally taken. It was high time, for the 
2nd Army had only a single corps the Vth Siberian left on the 
left bank in occupation of a rearguard position some four miles in 
advance of the city. On the night of the 4th this corps retired 
to the right bank, and the bridges were blown up at 3 a.m. on the 
5th. The German scouts reached the left bank at 6 a.m. The 
three corps of the 2nd Army had suffered little. 

The abandonment of Ivangorod was effected on the following 
night, the 4th Army destroying the bridges, and levelling even, as 
they told me, the fieldworks. The Staff of this Army had moved 
from Novo Alexandriya to Radin on July 2ist. 

The Staff of the ist Army moved from Yablonna to Lokhov. 
On August 4th it moved further south-east to Sokolov, where I 
joined it on August 7th. 

The situation was then as follows : The I2th Army, with 
Headquarters at Zambrov, held the front Osovets-north of 
Lomja-south-east of Novogrod-east of Ostrolenka-east of Rojan, 
with the Ist, Vth, IVth Siberian and XXIst Corps. The ist 
Army, with Headquarters at Sokolov, continued the line along 
the Bug to the west of Vishkov with the IVth, Ist Siberian and 
XXVIIIth Corps. The Ist Turkistan Corps had been left 

314 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

behind in the re-entrant of the Bug-Narev north of Zegrj to cover 
the final provisioning of Novo Georgievsk. Its left flank was 
covered towards the Vistula by Oranovski, with the 1st Cavalry 

The Staff of the 2nd Army was arriving at Syedlets, and its 
troopsthe Vth Siberian, XXXVth and XXXVIth Corps held 
the line Radimin-Novi Minsk-Garvolin. 

The 4th Army, with Headquarters at Radin, continued the 
line to the south-east of Lyubartov with the XVIth, Grenadier, 
XXVth, XVth and Vlth Siberian Corps. 

Further east the 3rd Army, with Headquarters at Vlodava, 
carried the line to the south-east of that town with the IXth, 
XXIVth, Xth, Ilnd Siberian, Guard, XlVth and Illrd Caucasian 

The Russians had therefore twenty-three corps on a front 
from Lorn j a to Vlodava of under 200 miles, but corps did not 
average more than 12,000 bayonets, with a total average of shell 
in battery, park and reserve of 150 to 200 rounds per gun. 

In the I2th Army the IVth Siberian Corps and the XXIst 
Corps had suffered severely in the fighting about Ostrolenka and 
Rojan. The XXIst Corps had been brought up to the front before 
it had time to assimilate the drafts that had replaced its losses in 
Galicia, and its Commander, Skinski, had a poor reputation. 

In the ist Army the XXVIIth Corps had 27,000 men, but the 
Chief of Staff told me that the other corps averaged only 5,000 
bayonets each. No drafts had arrived during the recent fighting, 
while the cadres of the enemy in our front had been refilled three 
times. The " Army Reserve " of shell was reduced to 60 H.E. 
rounds. Batteries averaged 200 rounds per gun, but individual 
batteries had been repeatedly compelled to withdraw owing to 
lack of ammunition. 

The 2nd Army had not been recently seriously engaged. Of 
the corps in the 4th Army, the XVIth and the Grenadier had 
suffered most. 

The Turkistan Corps commenced its retirement on the night 
of the 7th. Novo Georgievsk was left with a garrison of nominally 

April-August, 1915 315 

four divisions in addition to the six battalions of artillery and 
other fortress technical troops. The infantry included two 
second-line divisions the 58th and 6yd and Opolchenie. The 
63rd had an unfortunate record. Its failure to hold out a few 
hours longer at Prasnish in February had saved the Germans 
considerable losses. It had then been re-formed, but had been cut 
to pieces by Mackenzen on the Dunajec in early May. 

Novo Georgievsk had been provisioned for six months, but of 
course had shell for nothing like that period. The Staff of the 
ist Army did not expect it to hold out for more than ten days. 

It was always a mystery to me why Novo Georgievsk had, 
previous to the war, been strengthened and retained as a fortress, 
while Ivangorod had been abandoned. One night in the Guard 
Corps, when the conversation turned on fortresses, I had asked 
General Bezobrazov his opinion. He said that the truth had yet 
to be told, but that he had an idea that a secret agreement had 
been made with Germany, under the terms of which Russia 
engaged within ten years of the conclusion of the Japanese war to 
destroy all the fortresses in Poland ! 

By the morning of August gth the five armies I2th, ist, 2nd, 
4th and 3rd had retired to the general line Lomja-Ostrov- 
Vengrov-Lyubartov-Vlodava, the Turkistan Corps coming into 
line on the left of the ist Army. The Staffs moved back, that of 
the I2th Army to near Byelostok, of the ist Army to Byelsk, of 
the 2nd to Kleshcheli, of the 4th to Byela. 

That day the Germans captured Lomja from the south-west, 
the Ist Corps retiring east. The main enemy effort was directed 
on the junction of the I2th and ist Armies at Ostrov. The 
Germans forced their way through, turning in a single effort the 
defences of the Cherboni Bor and the middle Bug. The XXIst 
Corps retired east, leaving a gap between its right and the left of 
the IVth Siberian Corps, and to fill this the XXVIIth Corps was 
sent north. 

The Vth Corps was now the only one in the I2th Army that 
retained any fighting value. The ist Army extended its right 
flank to the north in order to relieve pressure on its neighbour, and 
by the morning of the nth occupied a general line from Zambrov 

316 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

to ten versts north of Sokolov. The 2nd and 4th Armies had 
moved back correspondingly. 

The enemy had nothing to gain by running into the angle of 
the Bobr and Narev, so transferred his forces from the front of the 
I2th to that of the ist Army, making his main effort to reach 
Byelostok through Mazovyetsk. 

On the 1 2th, with Baron Budberg, who was attached to the 
Army Staff, I visited the XXVIIth Corps and the 76th Division, 
and found the Staffs in the usual wonderful spirits. General 
Balanin talked incessantly at lunch. He gave me as a souvenir a 
copy of an order he had issued in the previous month, and also a 
memoir of his son, who had been killed in the Guard at Lomja. 

The order, of which he was very proud, ran as follows : 

Village XXVIITH CORPS. '-'zSthJuly, 

of 1915- 

Vyeshkov. No. 295. 

The enemy has come close to us. 

We have now the opportunity to deliver him a powerful 
stroke, worthy of the gallant Russian Army. 

At this fateful moment I turn to you, glorious units of 
my Corps, with heartfelt greeting and a warm summons 
to stand firm to protect the interests of our beloved 
Fatherland and to gladden the heart of our adored Em- 
peror and the Supreme Commander-in-Ghief by your 
strength, tenacity and self-denying bravery. 

The battle will be decisive. 

We must conquer whatever the cost. This His Majesty 
the Emperor demands of us for the good of our country. 

By your soldierly exploits you will guarantee the 
happiness of your native land. We will fight to the last 
drop of blood to conquer the bold and wicked enemy who 
has invaded our territory. We will exert all our strength 
to fulfil our holy duty and to show to the world of what 
stuff is made the brave, self-sacrificing Russian soldier risen 
in defence of his native land. 

April-August, 1915 317 

God will help us, and we, mindful of the saying, " Trust 
in God, but keep your powder dry," must do everything 
that our conscience and our oath demands of us for the 
triumph of our holy and righteous cause. 

I am confident that this will be done ! 

I hope that the units of the XXVI I th Corps will earn 
new laurels for their standards, and that honourably, 
without a thought of self-preservation, they will strike a 
blow for the happiness of our great Fatherland. 

Long live our Emperor ! 

God be with us ! 



On the night of the I2th, the I2th, ist and 2nd Armies retired 
an average of fifteen miles to a general line east of Vizna-Sokoli- 
Tsyekhanovets-Drogichin-Lositsi. This brought no relief, and 
by the following afternoon the ist Army was once more in action 
all along its front. 

The situation was critical on the following days. In the 
nine days August 5th to I3th, the ist Army had retired seventy- 
three miles from the Vistula to the Bug. Our five corps were 
hopelessly under strength. For instance, in one division there 
only remained 890 bayonets out of sixteen battalions. They 
were opposed by fourteen divisions which had been filled up for 
the fourth time. The men were tired out from retiring every night 
and digging trenches in the morning, only to be shelled in the 
afternoon by an artillery to which they could hardly reply. The 
Official Summary of Operations of the I4th says of an attack on 
the 76th Division north of the Warsaw-Byelostok railway : 

" The attack has so far been repulsed, but our artillery, 
owing to shortage of shell, is unable to develop a 
sufficiently intense fire." 

The same Summary says, regarding the IVth Corps : 

" Our artillery, owing to shortage of shell, is unable to 
stop the enemy's continuous attacks." 

318 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

On August I2th the XXIst Corps (33rd, 44th and 78th 
Divisions, a brigade of the 4ist Division, a brigade of the 6th 
Siberian Division and two Turkistan rifle regiments, nominally 
sixty-eight battalions) mustered only 6,000 men with thirty-one 
shell per gun. 

On the I5th there was a panic in the XXIst Corps, but ' ' it 
was found possible at 6 p.m. to stop the retreating units." In 
one corps that day even the limber ammunition was exhausted, 
and the batteries were reduced to silence. Two thousand shell 
were begged and obtained from the I2th Army. In the Turkistan 
Corps all the rifle ammunition was exhausted in repelling an 

Naturally the lack of armament was commencing to have a 
disastrous effect on the morale of the troops. Any army would in 
time become demoralised by constant short retirements with an 
enemy on its heels that it could never shake off. It would have 
been far better, if it could have been managed, for the troops to 
have retired longer distances at a time to previously prepared 
positions. The staff-work of the retreat was, however, very 
efficiently managed ; breaks-through were promptly dealt with, 
and surplus transport and guns for which there was no am- 
munition were sent on ahead, so that the roads were never 

I was struck by a conversation I had with a young airman on 
August I5th in the garden at Byelsk. He commenced as usual 
with an attempt to " draw " me by the remark that he supposed 
the Western Allies were very angry with Russia on account of 
her failure. He went on to say that he was certain that Russia 
would never reconquer Poland by force ; that the Russian soldier 
did not want to fight ; that he was at best only raw material ; 
that the officers of reserve were hopelessly ignorant and could not 
even read a map ; that it was not enough to have regular officers 
only, as at present, in charge of battalions, for the reserve officers 
were quite unfit to command companies. 

Feeling among other Russian officers was bitter regarding the 
" inaction " of the Allies. On one occasion, when we had had no 
post for a fortnight, I asked an officer who had got a paper what 

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April-August, 1915 319 

the Allies were doing in the Western theatre. He laughed and 
said : ' Doing ? They are lost in admiration for the Russian 
army and its marvellous valour." 

The fighting value of corps and divisions now more than ever 
depended on the quality of the command. Men of strong will, 
like Aliev of the IVth Corps, Abram Dragomirov of the IXth, and 
Irmanov of the Illrd Caucasian Corps, had the remnants of their 
fine corps constantly in hand and kept things going. 

The regular officers of the Russian army and the best of the 
temporary officers, who worked with their units throughout this 
great retreat, and fought their way back yard by yard without 
losing heart themselves or allowing their men to despair, were 
citizens of whom any country should be proud. How poorly 
have their services been rewarded ! 

During the retreat itself most Russian officers, as usual, 
thought it was their duty to give me an optimistic view of the 
situation and to try to make me believe that things were far 
better than they really were. It was only months later that 
artillery officers told me of the terrible moral strain they suffered 
through their powerlessness to help the infantry. 

An officer who commanded an artillery division in the XXIst 
Corps during the retreat of the ist Army from the Narev was 
given fifty rounds a day for his eighteen guns, and was told that 
his career would suffer if he fired more. His division was in 
action between Rojan and Ostrov, when drafts of 1,800 infantry 
arrived and were distributed to support trenches to wait unarmed 
till casualties in the firing-line should make rifles available. 
The Germans turned the Russian right, and he had seen, standing 
helpless through want of shell, 1,600 of these unarmed drafts 
' churned into gruel ' ' by the enemy's guns. 

Another officer who commanded a battery in the Guard Rifle 
Brigade told me how in the retreat infantry officers used to come 
to him to implore him to fire " just one or two shots " to help 
them in their difficulties, and he had to refuse ; how they some- 
times asked, " Is it true what they tell us, that you have no shell 
left ? " and he had to lie and say that it was not true, but that 
he was keeping the ammunition for a critical moment. Then 

320 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

they used to say, " All right, but when will that critical moment 
be if not now ? ' 

I had been told when we arrived at Byelsk that we would 
probably remain there three months. I ventured to suggest 
three weeks. We remained eight days. On the morning of the 
i6th the Staff had to retire hurriedly to Berestovitsa, as a German 
Cavalry regiment had broken through our line in the night and 
had penetrated to the rear of the corps staffs. 

On August i6th and I7th, the I2th, ist and 2nd Armies retired 
to the general line of the Bobr and Narev and the Byelostok-Brest 
Litovsk railway. 

On the I7th this railway ceased working. 

The abandonment of the Polish salient had the one advantage 
that it shortened the general Russian front. At the same time, 
the danger on the Dvina on the extreme right called for the trans- 
fer of additional force. On the night of August i5th orders were 
issued for a regroupment. The Staff of the I2th Army was 
ordered to hand over its troops to the ist Army and to return to 
Petrograd, where General Churin, with General Sievers as his Chief 
of Staff, took charge of the phantom 6th Army. The Staff of the 
ist Army took control of the front of the former I2th Army at 
midnight on the igth. 

General Gorbatovski, with the Staff of the I3th Army, was 
moved from the neighbourhood of Kovel to Riga to take over a 
new I2th Army. Some of the units of the 13th Army were handed 
over to the neighbouring 3rd and 8th Armies, and others were 

railed to the north. 


The fortress of Kovna fell on August i8th. Novo Georgievsk 
fell on the following day. Its investment had been only completed 
on the gth, so the forecast of the ist Army Staff, which gave the 
fortress only ten days' life, was astonishingly accurate. The last 
wireless message received spoke of an explosion in the citadel. 
The Russians claimed that the storming of the works cost the 
Germans immense casualties. There was the usual cry of 
" treachery." It was stated that two fortress engineers had 
motored out towards the enemy's lines and had been captured 

April -August, 1915 321 

with full plans of the fortress. I learned later the foundation of 
this story. Some two weeks before the commencement of the 
siege, two engineers had motored out to visit the front, and had 
indeed been captured with plans. There is, however, no ground 
whatsoever for accusing these men of treachery. They were 
only grossly stupid and exceedingly rash. There is no doubt, too, 
that the Germans had complete plans long before this incident. 

Ludendorff comments on the poor construction of the works, 
and wonders why the Grand Duke left a garrison behind to defend 
the fortress. We can only imagine that he was misinformed, and 
calculated that it could stand a siege of several months, as 
Przemysl had. Its short resistance can have had no delaying 
effect on the enemy's advance. 

The fall of Kovna was in a military sense a more serious blow 
than the abandonment of the line of the Vistula, for Vilna was 
now immediately threatened, and, with the Germans definitely 
established in possession of the main Trans-Nyeman railway, 
retirement from the Bobr and Narev became inevitable. 

Osovets was therefore abandoned on the night of the 22nd. 
Under cover of a mist I visited the defences a few hours prior to 
their destruction. The German fire had not had the terrible 
effects that reports led one to believe. As far as could be judged, 
the fortress might have held out for months if the general situation 
had admitted of the continuance of the defence. We lunched 
with General Brjozovski, the Commandant, who had removed to 
some barracks eight miles to the south. 

Brjozovski said that he had expended 55,000 rounds of all 
calibres up to 6" in the six and a half months' defence. He 
estimated that the Germans had fired from 200,000 to 230,000 
rounds of all calibres up to i6J". When I repeated this state- 
ment to Odishelidze, he said that, knowing Brjozovski, he would 
estimate the actual German expenditure at 30,000, and, judging 
from the results on the forts, he was probably right. The Russian 
Press at the time estimated the number of rounds ' ' hurled into 
the heroic fortress ' at over 2,000,000. 

On the afternoon of the 22nd only twenty-two field and three 
antiquated fortress guns remained at Osovets. The fifty-seven 


322 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

field guns were withdrawn as mobile artillery for the 57th and 
mth Divisions, who had defended the fortress, and who were now 
formed into a combined corps in the ist Army under Brjozovski. 

At ii p.m. the three old guns and the defences were blown up, 
the explosive used amounting to ninety-two tons of gunpowder, 
dynamite and guncotton. 

As a fortress, Osovets had not played a very important part. 
It was Schulman, a former commandant, who, in October, 1914, 
thought it would be no harm to occupy the spare time of the 
garrison by the fortification of the so-called Sosna position, a line 
of trenches on the right bank of the Bobr, about seven versts in 
length and two versts in advance of the fortress. This position 
prevented the German gunners from properly observing the results 
of the fire of their heavy artillery, and so saved the forts. 

A strikingly pathetic feature of the retreat was the mass of 
fugitives that blocked all the roads as the Russian troops retired. 
The whole of the Polish peasantry seemed to migrate from the 
districts east of the Vistula. The Russians said that they did 
not compel them to move unless their villages were likely to be 
the scene of fighting. The requisition, however, had been 
ordered from all who remained of all cattle, horses, bacon, tea 
and sugar, and it was impossible for the people to remain behind 
when deprived of their means of livelihood. Unfortunately the 
civil staff was always the first to leave, and it was left to the Corps 
Intendance to carry out the requisitions. This, having no proper 
staff for the purpose, carried out its task in a slipshod manner. 
The authorities in rear were put to it to cope with a movement 
that had assumed the dimensions of a national migration. Even 
if trains had been available, they would have been of no use to the 
peasantry, whose only wealth was of too bulky a nature. They 
travelled in their long Polish carts drawn generally by two horses, 
the father driving and the mother sitting on the top of the family 
belongings in a cluster of her younger children. The elder sons 
and daughters drove flocks of cows or geese or pigs along the 

Near Byelsk I passed twenty continuous miles of such fugitives. 

April-August, 1915 323 

Some of them had come from as far as Plotsk, and had been on the 
road a month. If asked why they left their homes they would 
say that if they had stayed they would have starved, for " the 
Germans took everything," and " Russia will at any rate not allow 
us to starve." If asked where they were going, they replied that 
they did not know. 

The Polish peasantry is one of the finest in the world sober, 
hard-working and religious. The self-control with which these 
poor people met their trouble made one's heart go out to them. 
The women were often quietly crying, and there were many faces 
of absolute despair, but there was no bad temper and never a 
complaint. I saw one peasant stoically driving a cart on which, 
propped up on the top, was the body of his wife, who had died of 
exposure on the road, her children lying on the bedding around 
her. He was ' ' carrying on ' ' till he got to a Catholic cemetery. 
The Red Gross opened feeding-stations at intervals to provide tea 
and bread free. The Russian soldiers treated the fugitives with 
real kindness. The Russian Intendance was ordered to buy all 
their cattle at a fair price. Yet, in spite of everything, it will 
never be known how many of these poor people died on their 
pilgrimage. In the following year I found the main roads further 
east over which the tide of fugitives had passed studded every few 
hundred yards with rough crosses to mark the general graves 
where cholera victims had been buried. Some Polish refugees 
struggled even beyond the Urals. There were Poles living in dug- 
outs at Omsk four years later. 

I left the Staff of the ist Army at Grodna on the evening of 
August 25th, and travelled to Petrograd. 




ON August 17th, 1915, when the Byelostok-Brest railway 
ceased working, the war in the Eastern theatre entered on 
another phase. Up to that date, in the operations in the " Ad- 
vanced Theatre," the Russian Command had profited by the use 
of the elaborate system of railways and chaussees that had been 
prepared in the eighties. In future the Russian armies were to 
operate in territory, the equipment of which in roads and railways 
was as inferior to that of Poland as the railway system of Poland 
was inferior to that of East Prussia. 

The need for transverse railways made itself felt at once. 
In the 100 miles due east from Warsaw there were five tracks 
parallel to the front, but the retreating Russian army had to cover 
120 miles more in an easterly direction from Brest Litovsk before 
it reached a sixth line, that from Vilna to Sarni. 

Before the evacuation of Poland the shortage of rolling-stock 
was often blamed for delays in the transfer of troops. The loss 
of 12,000 versts of line might have been expected to improve 
matters by increasing the number of engines, wagons and per- 
sonnel per verst for the verstage that remained. Such ad- 
vantages, however, were entirely neutralised by the loss of 
several well-equipped stations, since the stations that remained 
were unable to cope with the volume of traffic. The control of 
the rolling-stock, too, was deplorable. Wagons with evacuated 
machinery and guns, regarding the destination of which no orders 
had been issued, occupied valuable sidings for weeks. 

This disorganisation of the railways immensely increased the 


August -October, 1915 325 

difficulties of the Russian Command at a time when the strategical 
situation called urgently for the transfer of large forces from the 
centre and left to the right flank. 

On that flank Plehve, who had moved his headquarters first 
from Mitau to Riga and then east to Kreuzburg, had up till the 
middle of July prevented the further advance of Below's Nyeman 
Army. However, immediately after their attack on the 1st 
Army on the Narev, the Germans developed a new offensive in 
Kurland. By the capture of Windau and Tukhum they were 
able by July i8th to shorten their front by advancing their left 
flank to the Gulf of Riga. Shavli and Mitau were stoutly de- 
fended by the Russians, but were captured on July 23rd and 
August 1st. In the former town, which was the chief centre of 
the tanning industry, the enemy captured 400,000 worth of 
leather, of which he was as sorely in need as the Russians. 1 

Not only was Riga now threatened, but also Dvinsk, the 
capture of which would have severed the Petrograd-Warsaw 
railway. However, the capture of Kovna on August i8th by the 
neighbouring Army of General Eichhorn opened through Vilna 
a still shorter line of attack on this vital artery of Russian 

The German preparations before Kovna had been long in the 
making, but the attack on the advanced field works only com- 
menced on August 5th, the day Warsaw was evacuated. The 
Germans were supposed to have about three corps at their 
disposal, while the defence was entrusted to the fortress troops, 
consisting of twenty-four companies of artillery, one company of 
sappers and a telegraph company, together with the I04th and 
I24th Divisions of Infantry. These divisions were composed of 
units that had been working battalions up till April. They had 
then been given rifles and told that they were Opolchenie. A few 
weeks later the cross the badge of the Opolchenie was taken 
from their caps and they were informed that they were now 
regulars. There were also four depot battalions, each 13,000 
strong, which had been sent to the fortress a week before the 

1 The Russian Intendance issued 38,000,000 pairs of boots in the first 
thirteen months of war. 

326 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

attack, and four Frontier Guard regiments. The garrison pro- 
bably totalled 90,000 men. The Commandant was Grigoriev, an 
ex-general of cavalry, who before the war had been unfavourably 
reported on by Rennenkampf , the District Commander. 

The defences were not completed. The Russian programme of 
fortress construction had been originally drawn up with a view 
to its completion in 1914. The increasing power of siege artillery 
made this programme out of date, and the year 1920 was fixed for 
the completion of a revised programme which provided for a 
greater thickness of cement. There were no works of cement 
construction at Kovna at the beginning of the war, and during the 
war only thirteen shelters, each designed for the accommodation 
of a company, were built. There was only a single ring of forts. 
The Grand Duke Nikolai's comment on the defences during a 
visit previous to the war was that the name " Kovna " should be 
changed to " Govno " (dung). There were no guns of larger 
calibre than 10", while the enemy is said to have made use of all 
calibres up to 16%". 

The Russian General Staff seems to have regarded the prepara- 
tions of the enemy as merely a demonstration till it was too late. 
The relief columns organised from units of the loth Army ad- 
vanced very slowly and were easily contained by the enemy's 
covering troops. The so-called Yanov Column, composed of 
units of the XXXIVth Corps, never advanced much beyond 
Yanov, fifteen miles north-east of the fortress. The other 
column, composed of part of the Illrd Siberian Corps, was 
directed against the right of the German troops operating against 
the defences of the First Sector. It actually fought its way to the 
railway, but the Illrd Siberian Corps had in addition a consider- 
able front to defend towards the west, and the units available for 
the relief were too weak to effect anything. 

On the morning of August I5th the enemy carried the advanced 
works in the First Sector, south-west of the fortress. That night 
he attempted to storm the forts in this sector, but was driven back 
by a counter-attack. 

Troops to make a serious attempt at relief began to arrive, 
but it was already too late. The 4th Finland Rifle Division from 

August- October, 1915 327 

the XXI Ind Corps of the nth Army was brought up and dis- 
tributed right and left to the relieving columns. 

While still in the fieldworks in advance of the permanent 
defences, the Russian infantry, supported by the guns of the 
forts in their rear, had inflicted considerable damage on the 
enemy. Once these works were abandoned, the concentrated 
fire of the enemy's heavy guns, whether or not it was as devastat- 
ing in result as eye-witnesses report, proved at all events too much 
for the nerves of the half-trained and under-officered defenders. 
On the i6th the enemy captured Fort I. of the First Sector, and, 
penetrating between Forts II. and III., wheeled to the left in 
rear of the forts of the Second Sector. That night the whole of 
the defences of the First Sector were captured. One fort of the 
Second Sector and the whole of the defences on the right or 
eastern bank of the Nyeman remained, however, still in the 
hands of the Russians. 

On the I7th Grigoriev, accompanied only by a priest, left by 
motor-car for the Hotel Bristol at Vilna. His Chief of Staff did 
not for some time know that he had gone. 

On the 1 8th the Germans occupied the town, the Russians 
retiring from all the defences. 

Thus a fortress which had cost many hundreds of thousands 
of pounds was captured after forty-eight hours' serious attack. 

Over a year later an ensign whom I met in the Carpathians 
gave me an account of his experiences in the defence. He had 
been drafted with four depot battalions from near Baranovichi 
to Kovna a week before the commencement of the German 
advance. He said that there were many guns in the fortress, but 
the defences were beneath contempt. The only concrete 
emplacement was occupied by the Commandant, General 
Grigoriev, who never left it except at night " ! This youth said 
that in his company of 250 men he had only sixty-eight rifles. 
A single 16" shell destroyed three whole sections. He was con- 
tusioned and went to hospital, where he consoled himself with the 
reflection that at all events the bridge over the Nyeman would be 
blown up and he would have time to escape. The bridge was not 
blown up, and he only escaped in dressing-gown and slippers on 

328 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

the last crowded train. In his opinion the Russian guns had 
sufficient shell, and the place might have been held if the Com- 
mandant had not been a coward. At the very beginning of the 
attack he had created a half panic by telling officers who had no 
intention of running away that " the first man to bolt would be 
shot " ! 

Two hours after his arrival at Vilna, Grigoriev was placed under 
arrest by the Grand Duke. He was court-martialled on two main 
charges : 

1. That he failed to make proper artillery and engineer 
preparation for the defence of the fortress of Kovna, in that he 
massed his guns in too small an area, and that he failed to clear 
the field of fire. 

2. That he abandoned the fortress to report to the Army 
Command, instead of sending a staff officer to report, as he 
might easily have done, and that he failed to return to the 

The Court was much influenced in its decision by Grigoriev's 
failure to blow up the tunnel east of Kovna, the only tunnel 
between Ostend and Petrograd. It is said that the officer 
detailed to prepare the tunnel for demolition had been told to do 
nothing till specially ordered, and as he received no orders he left 
the tunnel intact. 

Grigoriev was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment with hard 

The enemy captured many million tins of preserved meat at 
Kovna, and these were of the greatest value to him in the 
operations of the following month. It is said that soon after- 
wards he captured 1,000 tons of sugar at Grodna and 35,000 head 
of cattle at Kobrin, further south. 

The shortening of the Russian front owing to the abandonment 
of the line of the Vistula, and the prospect of its further contrac- 
tion as the retreating armies arrived on the line of the Pinsk 
marshes, permitted of the transfer of corps from the left centre to 
the extreme right. At the same time, the necessity of assuring 
the defences of the lower Dvina in order to guarantee the safety 

August -October, 1915 329 

of the right flank during the continued retreat of the main 
Russian armies was increasingly urgent. 

On August 30th a new group of armies the Northern Front 
was formed under General Ruzski, with Headquarters at Pskov, 
to include three armies the 6th at Petrograd, the I2th under 
Gorbatovski and the 5th under Plehve. 

It was at first contemplated to make Gorbatovski's army the 
strongest of the group, with the idea that he might take the offen- 
sive south from Riga and west from Jacobstadt. However, the 
fall of Kovna, and the consequent pressing danger to the important 
railway centre of Vilna, caused the diversion of the first reinforce- 
ments from the south to the loth Army, and the retention of that 
army in the Western Front, whose right flank it was its duty to 
guard during the continued retirement. 

When Gorbatovski, with his Staff, arrived in several troop- 
trains on August 22nd at Wenden, north-east of Riga, he took 
over command of the right half of Plehve's army, consisting of 
the VHth Siberian and the XXXVIIth Corps, the ist Caucasian 
Rifle Brigade, the ist, 2nd and 4th Cavalry Divisions and the 
Cavalry School Division. The XXVIIIth Corps (17,000 
bayonets) from the 8th Army completed its detrainment at 
Kreuzburg by August 3oth, but was too late. Before its arrival 
the XXXVIIth Corps, which had been attacked east of Riga, was 
driven across to the right or northern bank of the Dvina, and the 
XXVIIIth Corps lost a whole regiment in a vain attempt to defend 
the town of Friedrichstadt. The XXVIIIth Corps was itself 
driven back to the angle of the Dvina west of Jacobstadt, and by 
September loth had been reduced to 7,000 bayonets. 

The Commander of the XXVIIIth, Kashtalinski, was a fine 
old man and a hard fighter, who had taken a leading part at the 
Yalu and at Laioyang. I found him at 7 p.m. on September 
loth with part of his Staff in a cottage a mile from the firing-line, 
in line with his divisional and regimental staffs, and with the 
German and Russian shell flying overhead. He explained that it 
was important that his men should feel that he was close at hand, 
since he had only 4,500 of them on the left bank to resist the 
German pressure, and it was necessary for him to hold out at 

330 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

all costs till the XXIIIrd Corps had time to come up on his left. 
The Ilnd Siberian Corps (15,000 bayonets) had arrived by 
September 3rd to take over the defence of the northern bank of 
the Dvina between Riga and Jacobstadt, and the arrival of the 
XXIIIrd Corps, which completed its detrainment at Kreuzburg 
by the evening of the I2th and moved forward to relieve the 
cavalry on the left of the XXVIIIth Corps, rendered the line of 
the lower Dvina comparatively safe. By the middle of Sep- 
tember Gorbatovski had at his disposal forces certainly equal to 
those of the enemy, but all idea of an offensive was now post- 
poned, and he devoted himself to the fortification of the Riga and 
Jacobstadt bridgeheads. 

On September 5th the Emperor assumed command of the 
Army, announcing the fact in an Army Order : 

" I have to-day taken supreme command of all the forces 
of the sea and land armies operating in the theatre of war. 
With firm faith in the clemency of God, with unshakable 
assurance of final victory, we shall fulfil our sacred duty to 
defend our country to the last. We will not dishonour 
the Russian land." 

Two days later the Grand Duke Nikolai, accompanied by his 
Chief of Staff, Yanushkevich, left G.H.Q. at Mogilev for his new 
post of Viceroy and Commander-in-Chief in the Caucasus. 

The late General Quartermaster, Danilov, received command 
of the XXVth Corps. ' " 

General Alexyeev, from the command of the Western (late 
North- Western) Front, was promoted to be Chief of Staff to the 
Emperor at Mogilev. He took with him as General Quarter- 
master, General Pustovoitenko. 

Alexyeev was succeeded in command of the Western Front 
by General Ewarth from the 4th Army. General Ragoza, from 
the XXVth Corps, was promoted to command the 4th Army. 
Ewarth very soon came to loggerheads with his Chief of Staff, 
Gulevich, and the latter was " placed at the disposition of the 
Northern Front," where he was appointed to the command of 

5th August, 1915. Gansk. Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovich distributing crosses 
on behalf of the Emperor. General Lesh, Commander of the 3rd Army, is the stout 

man with heavy moustache in the centre of picture. 

[See page 310 

1-Ath September, 1915. N.W. of Dvinsk. Widow with eight children packing 

up to fly before German advance. 

To face page 330] [See page 337 

13th September,^1915. Group of Kharkov Opolchenie, armed with Berdans, 
about to go into action for the first time on the Dvinsk defences. 

[See page 337 

13th September, 1915. South-west of Dvinsk. Tired-out men of the 5th 

Rifle Brigade 

[See page 337 

August -October, 1915 331 

the XXIst Corps. General Kvyetsinski, from the 2nd Army, 
was appointed Chief of Staff to Ewarth, with General P. P. 
Lebedev as General Quartermaster. 

The change in the Supreme Command may have been con- 
sidered necessary in order to satisfy public opinion, which had 
been naturally excited by the recent reverses, but it was received 
with mixed feelings by the army. There was a strong feeling, it 
is true, against Yanushkevich and Danilov, both in Duma circles 
and in the army. The former was looked on as merely a Court 
nominee, as indeed he was. He had served very little with 
troops. Up till 1913, when he was suddenly selected as Chief of 
the Academy, his whole career had been passed in office work in 
the Ministry of War. He occupied his post at the Academy for 
a year, and in that time dismissed five of the best professors 
because they had ventured to preach the importance of fire 
tactics, while Yanushkevich, under Sukhomlinov's instructions, 
was a firm believer in the Suvorov tradition of the bayonet. 

Against Danilov the feeling was stronger, for his was rightly 
regarded as the directing brain at G.H.Q., and the swarms of old 
women, civil and military, who chatter of military affairs without 
knowledge, laid at his door blame for every Russian disaster. No 
doubt he had made mistakes, such as the eccentric pursuit of the 
retreating Germans after the first attempt on Warsaw in October, 
1914, and the futile offensive by the 3rd and 8th Armies in the 
Carpathians in April, 1915 ; yet he had only the moving and 
direction of the forces placed at his disposal with such means as 
were available, and it is difficult to name a Russian general who 
would have done better. 

While relief at the removal of Yanushkevich and Danilov 
was general, Alexyeev had few champions among those who had 
worked with him on the Staff of the Western Front, and the assump- 
tion of command by the Emperor was generally condemned. 

Mikhail Vasilevich Alexyeev had commenced his service in 
the Line and had pushed his way to the front without " interest.' 1 
He was at this time a man of fifty-eight years of age, of simple, 
unassuming manners and a tremendous worker. A large part of 
his service had been spent as a teacher at the Academy and in the 

332 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

General Quartermaster's Branch (Military Operations Directorate) 
at Army Headquarters. He had been General Quartermaster of 
the 3rd Manchurian Army from November, 1904, and Chief of the 
Staff of the Kiev Military District from 1908 to 1912, when he 
received command of the XIHth Corps. He is said to have been 
an ideal commander of a corps in peace, and he was Ivanov's 
right-hand man as Chief of the Staff of the South-West Front in 
the first months of the war. 

Alexyeev's faults were that he tried to do everything himself 
and that he lacked the necessary self-reliance to enable him to 
take decisions quickly. An officer who served under him, in 
conversation, compared him to a " second Kuropatkin, who 
could decide nothing." Another officer an army commander 
told me that at the commencement of the war there was quite a 
dispute in the Staff of the South- West Front as to who should open 
official telegrams the Commander-in-Chief, Ivanov, or his Chief 
of Staff, Alexyeev. " The matter was at length settled by typing 
two copies, one of which Ivanov tore open and the other Alexyeev. 
But matters then became worse, for each pencilled his instructions 
on the messages, and the Staff did not know where the devil they 

At G.H.Q. Alexyeev did not show much power of delegating 
work. He still looked out places on the map himself. It was 
said that when things went badly he used to go into his bedroom 
to pray while his subordinates awaited decisions. 

It was reported that the Grand Duke Nikolai had been asked 
to take Alexyeev as his Chief of Staff, but he refused to abandon 
Yanushkevich, so there remained no alternative to the solution 

Most officers of the army regretted the Grand Duke's dis- 
missal, for they regarded him as an honest man who stood apart 
from Court intrigue. They would have been content to pay that 
dismissal as the price of the much-desired removal of Yanush- 
kevich andDanilov, many of them thinking, with Bezobrazov, that 
the " Grand Duke was completely in the hands of those men." 
Misgiving, however, was almost universal regarding the Emperor's 
assumption of the Supreme Command. 

August -October, 1915 333 

Radko Dimitriev thought the change less mad tha/i I imagined. 
I spent the night of September gth with his Staff at a Baltic baron's 
chateau north of Friedrichstadt. Next morning he talked for 
over an hour as we walked about the grounds. His argument was 
that it had been evident that the Grand Duke did not direct 
himself, and that those to whom he had committed the task of 
direction had shown themselves wanting in decision. His 
particular instance was the refusal to allow him (Radko) to invade 
Hungary with the 3rd Army in March, 1915. He had then six 
cavalry divisions, and if he had been given the three additional 
corps for which he asked he would have " launched the whole on 
Buda-Pesth, when the Hungarians would have been forced to sue 
for a separate peace." This argument was not convincing. 

At supper on the preceding night with a group of the senior 
officers of the Staff of the I2th Army the one opinion regarding the 
change was " Plokho ! " (bad). It was felt that the new appoint- 
ment would produce a crop of intrigues, that advancement would 
be given to Court favourites, and only men of strong independent 
character, of whom there were few in the Russian army, would be 
able to resist the temptation of intriguing to catch the Imperial 

The only remark I heard that the soldiers made was the childish 
one : ' Now the Emperor is going to fight, soon the Empress will 
come too, and then all the women of Russia will follow." 

In Petrograd, where the Empress's unpopularity was great, 
the Emperor's decision was ascribed to her influence acting on the 
suggestion of the impostor Rasputin. The conversation that 
took place, even in official circles and in the presence of a foreigner, 
showed the extent to which mistrust in the Government and the 
autocracy had gone. I was present in the drawing-room of a 
very highly-placed military official, when a lady said that though 
common rumour reported that the Archangel Gabriel had ap- 
peared to the Empress in a vision in the night and had announced 
that the armies of Russia would continue to be beaten till their 
Emperor placed himself at their head, she for her part thought 
that if anyone had appeared it was Rasputin, and not the Arch- 
angel Gabriel. It was certain, at all events, that an arrangement 

334 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

that withdrew the head of the Government to a distance of 
twenty-four hours by rail from his responsible ministers at a time 
of grave national danger can have had no very serious origin. It 
was related regretfully of the Grand Duke Nikolai that when on 
one occasion Rasputin had the impertinence to telegraph to him 
for permission to go to the front to bless the troops, Nikolai 
Nikolaievich had replied in two Russian words, which may be 
translated : " Yes, do come. I'll hang you." The dismissal of 
the Assistant Minister of the Interior, Junkovski, and of Prince 
Orlov, the Chief of the Emperor's Military Chancery, was ascribed 
to representations they ventured to make regarding Rasputin and 
the indecency of permitting a man of his type to visit the Court. 
At the suggestion of the Prime Minister, Gorimikin, the 
patriotic Duma was dismissed, since he had cause to fear its 

The retention of this Minister, whose dismissal all Russia 
demanded, was ascribed by a high authority to the influence of 
the Empress. It was constantly stated in Petrograd probably 
without a shred of foundation that Gorimikin flattered the 
Empress by protesting his readiness, if necessary, to advocate a 
separate peace in order " to save the dynasty." 

More than one officer assured me in September, 1915, that 
there would certainly be a revolution if the enemy approached 
Petrograd. They said that such a movement at such a time would 
be deplorable, but that the Government was bringing it upon 
itself, and though the Guard might remain loyal, the officers of the 
line would lend no hand in its suppression. 

On September igth I reported : "If there has ever been a 
Government that richly deserved a revolution, it is the present 
one in Russia. If it escapes, it will only be because the members 
of the Duma are too patriotic to agitate in this time of crisis." 

The leaders of political thought were indeed doing their best. 
A message of the Zemstvo Alliance to the army and the Govern- 
ment told the army to fight it out to a finish, and called on the 
Emperor to change the Government and to summon once more the 

The mistrust of authority was penetrating all classes of 


August -October, 1915 335 

society. I heard of one village near Luga where cheap papers 
were received describing mythical victories, and the poor people 
went in procession to beg the priest to celebrate a service of 
thanksgiving, learning only some days later from a more reliable 
paper that the whole report was a fabrication. This village had 
lost twenty-four men killed out of twenty-six called up. The 
whole of its population, old men, women and children, were now 
convinced that Russia had been sold to her enemies by the 
Ministry ; yet there was no calling out for peace. 

There was much corruption. Officials of the Department of 
Military Justice worked hard at the preparation of charges against 
many highly-placed individuals, but no one was ever publicly 
disgraced by exemplary punishment. Such people were indeed 
never punished in Russia as they ought to have been. The 
Russian, with his deep human sympathy and vivid imagination, 
always imagines himself in the guilty person's place, and if the 
latter happens to have an extravagant wife or an extravagant 
number of children, he says, " After all, poor fellow, his position 
was very difficult," and he ends by frankly sympathising with the 
criminal for the mental worry he must have undergone before 
and after his crime. 

The mismanagement of the rolling-stock on the railways and 
the dishonesty of many of the railway officials had a direct 
influence on the rise in prices. Sugar and meat would have been 
available throughout the towns of Russia, and at reasonable 
prices, if it had been possible to obtain transport for private 
merchandise without bribing at least one, generally several, rail- 
way employes. 

When a train came into a station it was the duty of the 
subordinate officials to compile and hand over to the station- 
master a list of the wagons with their numbers. These in- 
dividuals habitually entered only 75 per cent, of the wagons on 
the list, retaining the remaining 25 per cent. ' up their sleeve ' 
for private speculation with traders. 

The officer in charge of the motor transport of the Guard 
Corps told me that on one occasion when he wanted to send five 
cars through from Minsk to Vitebsk for repair, he applied to the 

336 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

Commandant of the Station (corresponding to our R.T.O.), but 
was told that there were no wagons. He got a bottle of brandy 
and walked down the sidings, and very soon found an employe* 
who pointed out the wagons in exchange for the brandy. He 
then returned to the Commandant, and told him " not to worry/' 
as everything had been satisfactorily arranged. 

After capturing Kovna on August i8th, Eichhorn, with the 
loth German Army, pressed forward in order to occupy Vilna 
and so sever the direct line of supply and retreat of the ist Russian 
Army, which opposed the armies of Scholtz and Gallwitz, west of 

Eichhorn was opposed by the loth Russian Army, under 
General Radkevich, with Headquarters at Vileisk, and to this the 
Russians transferred troops from their centre up to the utmost 
carrying capacity of their railways. By the end of August the 
Guard had arrived from the 3rd Army and the Vth Corps from the 
ist Army. 

Eichhorn had occupied Olita on August 26th, but an attempt 
to force back the left of the loth Army at Orani failed, and the 
Germans, who had advanced to a distance of eighteen versts from 
Vilna, were again driven back to a distance of thirty versts. 
Radkevich prepared a counterstroke. He moved the IHrd 
Siberian Corps up to a position in echelon in rear of the right 
flank of the Guard, and he placed the right group of his army 
under the command of General Olukhov, the Commander of the 
Guard Corps, giving him the task of striking south-west to roll up 
the enemy's front. Olukhov's right flank was to be protected by 
the Russian cavalry, who had been ordered to wheel to their left. 

While the Russian move was in preparation the enemy struck. 
The German Command had formed the ambitious project of 
surrounding and destroying x the Russian loth and ist Armies. 
Below's Nyeman Army was to cover the German left by a vigorous 
offensive towards Dvinsk, and Eichhorn, Schultz and Gallwitz 
were to attack to pin the Russians down to their front, while the 
German cavalry, supported by infantry detachments, was to 

1 Hans Niemann, Hindenburg's Siegeszug gegen Ruszland, p. 77. 

August -October, 1915 337 

penetrate between the Russian 5th and loth Armies, and to cut 
the communications of the latter by severing the Vilna-Dvinsk 
and Vilna-Minsk railways. 

German airmen actually threw proclamations in Minsk fixing 
September 23rd as the date on which Radkevich would be forced 
to surrender. In him, however, the enemy found a man worthy 
of their mettle. I only met him once in the course of the war at 
Izyaslavl, north-west of Minsk, where I lunched with his Staff on 
October 3rd, 1915. He was a fine-looking old man, evidently the 
possessor of a strong character. He had served in the Guard and 
had retired before the war, returning on mobilisation to take 
command of the Illrd Siberian Corps, which had consistently 
distinguished itself under his leadership. 

Many months later an officer who had served on his Staff related 
how, in the neighbourhood of Avgustov in September, 1914, 
Pfiug, then in command of the loth Army, twice ordered Rad- 
kevich to retire. The second telegram arrived during dinner and 
was opened by the Chief of Staff, who showed it to his Chief, 
pointing out that a continued disobedience of orders would render 
him liable to trial by court-martial. Radkevich pondered for a 
minute, and then brought his clenched fist down on the table 
with an emphatic, " I won't retire.' 1 He drafted a reply to that 
effect. His decision turned out correct, and the Germans were 
beaten at Avgustov. Radkevich received the Gross of St. 
George, and Pflug was superseded in command of the loth Army. 

The Russian cavalry on the left of the 5th Army and on the 
right of the loth Army was driven in on September 8th by parts 
of the ist, 3rd, 4th, 9th and Bavarian Cavalry Divisions. Below's 
infantry advanced rapidly along the Vilkomir-Dvinsk chaussee, 
and the Russian Illrd Corps had to retire by forced marches to 
forestall the enemy at the Dvinsk bridgehead. This corps 
covered about fifty miles on the night of the nth and the day and 
night of the I2th. I saw it arrive on the first line of the Dvinsk 
defences early on the I3th. Further north the XlXth Corps 
managed to slip away unperceived. Both corps were attacked 
by the pursuing enemy on September I4th. 

His cavalry having been driven in, Olukhov moved the 2nd 


338 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

Finland Division and the Illrd Siberian Corps to prolong his right 
flank to the east. 

On September I2th the German raiding force occupied the 
station of Novo Svyentsyani, severing communication between 
Dvinsk and Vilna, and cutting the loth Army's main line of 

Contact squadrons were sent north-east in the direction of 
Disna and Drissa, and the column, probably passing between 
lakes Svir and Naroch, occupied Vileika and Krivichi on the I5th, 
cutting the Bologoe-Lida railway, on which the ist Army de- 
pended. Another body of six cavalry regiments, with two field bat- 
teries and one heavy battery, immediately supported by cyclists 
and followed by three infantry regiments, moved rapidly south-east 
up the right bank of the Viliya and occupied Smorgoni on the I4th, 
cutting the Vilna-Molodechno-Minsk railway, the loth Army's 
secondary line of supply. 

The Kuban Cossacks, on the right of the loth Army, had done 
little to impede the progress of the German raid. The German 
cavalry had indeed so far had it all its own way. It captured 
3,000 head of cattle at Smorgoni, and its squadrons south-west 
and west of that station topk the divisional transport of the Ilnd 
Caucasian Corps and almost all the transport of the Illrd Siberian 
Corps, together with more than one field hospital and field bakery. 
The unfortunate peasants in the district raided had no time to 
save their cattle. 

It happened that the XXVIIth Corps was being moved by 
train from Lida to Dvinsk via Molodechno and Polotsk. Six 
trains had already passed the danger-zone, but three trains with 
infantry and transport were in the station at Krivichi, and a 
telegraph company was at Vileika. When the German guns 
opened fire the infantry retired south from Krivichi, skirmishing, 
while the telegraph company retired from Vileika on Molodechno. 
The train with the Staff of the ist Army arrived at Molodechno, 
but moved back prudently towards Lida, and sent out its escort 
squadron to reconnoitre ! 

From Vileika or Krivichi four German squadrons moved 
south-east to attack the Berezina bridge at Borisov. Luckily 

August-October, 1915 339 

the Russians managed to get a battalion to Borisov in time, for 
the destruction of a bridge of this size would have interrupted 
traffic on the Moscow-Minsk line for at least a fortnight or three 
weeks. The enemy cavalry contented itself with blowing up a 
few yards of the permanent way near Jodino, west of Borisov, and 
the damage only caused a few hours' delay. 

On September I5th a few German squadrons with two guns 
moved from Smorgoni on the important railway junction of 
Molodechno. They were opposed by the ist Independent 
Cavalry Brigade, which happened to be on the march across the 
rear of the loth Army and by the infantry echelons of the XXVIIth 
Corps, which crowded the station. After firing a few shots they 

As the news trickled through to Petrograd it seemed that the 
loth Army must inevitably be lost. On the morning of the 2Oth 
I met a lady whose husband was in the Staff of the Guard Corps, 
and enquired eagerly if she had any news. She told me that her 
husband's orderly had arrived that very morning, bringing with 
him an Empire grand piano which the colonel, a great collector, 
had found time to buy in a Polish chateau and his orderly had 
been clever enough to escort through to the capital. The 
incident seemed to indicate that things could not be as bad as we 

The Staffs of the loth Army and of the Western Front were, as 
a matter of fact, by no means perturbed. The ist Army was 
already in process of transfer to the right of the loth, and orders 
were now issued for the formation of a new 2nd Army between the 
ist and loth to carry out the task of attacking to the north-west 
on the line Vileika- Smorgoni. 

It had been calculated quite incorrectly that the advanced 
troops would be deployed in sufficient force by September i6th. 
On the I5th Radkevich issued an order in the Napoleonic style : 

"It is my pleasure that all the brave units of the loth 
Army be informed that the steadfastness and tenacity of 
which they have given proof in a difficult situation are 
already earning their reward. 

340 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

" To-morrow, the i6th, a corps arrives on our right flank, 
and the day after a second corps. Further to our right a 
third corps is coming up. 

" Shell is coming in every day, and soon there will be no 
.longer a shortage. 

"The arrival of these new reinforcements will be the 
signal for a general advance against the barbarian foe. 
This advance must be carried out with determination and 
without looking back. Remember that the Germans are 
ever nervous for their flanks and rear, and if we only strike 
hard enough they will fly, as the Guard proved in its recent 
short offensive. Let everyone learn that the loth Army 
has no fear of turning movements, and that the flanks of 
an army that takes the offensive with the determination to 
beat the enemy are secured by its own boldness. 

" The attack must be commenced by a widely-extended 
firing-line supported by strong reserves, the artillery at the 
same time thundering on the enemy's firing-line, reserves 
and batteries. A prolonged artillery preparation is merely 
a useless expenditure of ammunition ; the enemy becomes 
accustomed to the noise of the explosions and awaits the 
infantry attack with increased confidence. When a hurri- 
cane artillery fire is accompanied simultaneously by a 
reckless infantry assault, no German will hold his ground. 
When the enemy's front has been penetrated, the firing- 
line must pursue its advantage, following up the enemy to 
right and left, while the reserves press on to destroy his 
reserves in rear. 

" It is sufficient for the present for the cavalry to bear in 
mind the instructions received to-day from the Com- 
mander-in-Ghief of the Front : ' Our cavalry must take 
as its example the energy, the courage and the boundless 
activity of the German cavalry.' I think this remark 
should be sufficient to remind our cavalry, and especially 
the Cossacks and their leaders, of the glorious deeds of 
their ancestors. Bold reconnaissance in the enemy's 
front and bolder still in his rear, movement as if at home 

August -October, 1915 341 

among his batteries and his transport, dashes from rear 
and flank on his infantry stragglers, such is the activity 
that every leader can illustrate by brilliant examples from 
the past history of the Russian cavalry, and such is the 
activity the Germans are now so successfully imitating. I 
will never believe that the heroic spirit of the Russian 
cavalry is dormant or that our brave troopers have for- 
gotten the prowess of their glorious past. Arise from 
your slumbers, Horsemen all, and betake you to your work 
so pregnant with import ! Become once more the eyes 
and ears of the army, and to the foe a terror in front, in 
flank, and, above all, in rear ! 

" This order is to be read in all companies, squadrons, 
batteries, parks and transport columns." 

The confidence of the Army Commander was hardly shared to 
the same degree by those further in advance. Olukhov asked for 
permission to withdraw his group, the right of the loth Army, on 
the I3th, but Radkevich replied, as Olukhov told me later, by 
" insulting " him. An officer of Olukhov's Staff asked him one 
night what he thought of the situation, and was told that he must 
only " put his trust in God." In fact, friends in the Guard Corps 
said later that " either Olukhov or his Chief of Staff, Antipov, 
always had an attack of nerves. When one was calm the other 
was flurried." Antipov was very unpopular, and had by now 
earned an expressive Russian nickname, which may be literally 
translated, " The Outraged Hare" ! 

Radkevich had taken the precaution, as soon as the object of 
the German Command became evident, to commence the move- 
ment of two of his corps from his left to prolong his threatened 
right. On the i6th he agreed to Olukhov's suggestion, and 
moved his right group back to a line of fortifications prepared in 
advance of Vilna. 

Large bodies of German infantry were now attempting to 
turn the right flank of the army, and it became evident that the 
2nd Army would not be up in time. It would have been madness 
for Radkevich to have waited any longer with his right flank in 

342 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 1 

the air in the hope of saving Vilna. On the I7th he retired his 
whole army, the right contracting to a position about seven 
versts in advance of Vilna. That night the town was abandoned, 
the decision to do so having, as usual, been kept such a profound 
secret that several officers were left behind in cafes. 

Radkevich's salvation lay in the continual extension of his 
right by the constant withdrawal of force from his left or western 
flank. The contraction of his front admitted of the Guard Corps 
being drawn into reserve, and the Vth and Ilnd Corps were 
transferred across from the west to the east. 

It rained on the night of the I7th, but after that the weather 
was fortunately fine, for the Russians had to retire over a prac- 
tically roadless country. 

The retreat was continued on the night of the i8th. On 
the night of the igth the centre only was withdrawn. On the 
following night the whole of the army retired once more. On the 
i Qth and 20th the XXXVIth Corps arrived by road and drove the 
enemy from Smorgoni with the bayonet. Oranovski's 1st Cavalry 
Corps, which had come up to the north of Soli, was relieved by the 
Guard. The latter corps made an attempt to take the offensive, 
but this came to nothing. 

All danger of the loth Army being surrounded and cut off 
was now, however, at an end, for the IVth Siberian Corps was 
arriving on the right of the XXXVIth, and soon the XXVIIth 
Corps, having concentrated, drove the enemy's infantry from 
Vileika on the 26th and from Krivichi on the 27th. 

The enemy's cavalry was utterly exhausted, and it managed 
to save very few of its horses. 

Hindenburg's plan was bold, but it failed in execution, as his 
penetrating attacks at Lodz and Prasnish had failed, owing to the 
smallness of the force at his disposal and the calm nerve of the 
Russian General Staff. 

The Russians escaped from a difficult situation with com- 
paratively small material loss. They were forced to abandon a 
large slice more territory, but they saved their armies. Rad- 
kevich had probably very accurate information of the enemy's 
infantry movements and strength, so he was able to judge the 

August -October, 1915 343 

exact hour when retirement became a necessity, but he showed 
grand nerve, and the staff arrangements in his army must have 
been excellent. 

The German cavalry advanced with fine self-sacrifice, but its 
raid would never have penetrated to the depth it did if it had had 
to deal with Russian regular cavalry instead of with Oossacks. 
The German infantry must have made some wonderful marches, 
for its advanced units arrived in Smorgoni and Vileika three days 
after the cavalry. 

The Germans evidently expected to remain in permanent 
occupation of the Polotsk-Molodechno railway, for even allowing 
for the small amount of explosives carried by mounted troops, the 
demolitions they effected were of only a temporary character, and 
very different from those on the railways beyond the Vistula in 
1914. Altogether they damaged 100 versts of line from Molo- 
dechno to south-east of Glubokoe, blowing up seven bridges, of 
which the largest were two of 245 feet and 105 feet span, bom- 
barding the station at Molodechno and burning those at Vileika 
and Krivichi. The bridges were repaired in seven days, and traffic 
was reopened from Polotsk to Molodechno on October 3rd. If 
the enemy had used half the explosive he expended on the bridges 
on the destruction of the water supply, he would have delayed the 
resumption of traffic three times as long. Practically all the 
stations had water-towers, each with two cisterns. The tower at 
Vileika was untouched. The two iron pipes in the tower at 
Krivichi were cut, but these were easily replaced ; a hole was blown 
in the lower cistern, but the upper one was left intact. The 
destruction of two consecutive towers was necessary to render 
traffic impossible. 

The Staff of the ist Army arrived by rail via Minsk at Polotsk 
on September 3oth. Its corps came up gradually, and it took the 
offensive in a westerly direction on October 4th and 5th, the Army 
Staff moving to the small station of Krulevshchizna, south of 
Glubokoe. Nine and a half divisions of cavalry had been con- 
centrated on Litvinov's right with the object of raiding on Svyent- 
"yani, but the German machine-guns defeated all attempts to 
force a passage through the lake defiles. The Russian infantry 

344 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

lost very heavily, and by October 7th the offensive was for the 
time being abandoned. 

The Vilna Operation, as the Russians call the German offensive 
of September, 1915, was the last great strategical move of the year 
in the Russian theatre. From the third week in September the 
German Command transferred its attention to other theatres, 
and moved large forces to France and Serbia. 

It continued, however, its attacks on the Dvinsk bridge- 
head with a persistency that gave colour to the belief that it 
wished to take both Dvinsk and Riga and to fortify bridgeheads 
on the right bank of the Dvina as bases for a further advance in 
the spring. On September 5th General Ruzski said at Pskov that 
it was very probable that this was the intention. 

The balance of evidence seemed, however, against this 
supposition. On September 8th I wrote in my Diary while on 
the Northern Front : 

I think the weakness of the German force on their 
extreme left three and a half divisions against the 
Russian I2th Army and their hesitation to renew the 
attempt on Riga from the sea, when they know that less 
than three months remain during which their superiority 
in the Baltic could be brought to bear, proves that they 
have not yet definitely formulated the idea of an advance 
on Petrograd. They are simply engaged in a vast frontal 
drive against the Russian army, setting a pace that will 
strain the power of endurance of the Russian soldier to the 
utmost. Their hope to be able to cut off and destroy 
whole formations has so far come to nothing, but they are 
reaping a rich harvest in tired-out prisoners and rifles. 

By the middle of October the Russian Army had taken up the 
general line which it occupied throughout the winter of 1915- 
1916. Corps were in the first instance distributed to armies as 
follows : 

NORTHERN FRONT. Commander-in-Chief : General Ruzski. 
Chief of Staff: General Bonch-Bruevich. General 

August -October, 1915 345 

Quartermaster : General Kiyanovski. Head- 
quarters : Pskov. 

6TH ARMY : General Ghurin. Chief of Staff: General 

Sievers. Headquarters : Petrograd. 
XLth, XLIst and XLIInd Corps in formation. 
XLIIIrd Corps, io8th and logth Divisions. 

I2TH ARMY : General Gorbatovski. Chief of Staff: Gen- 
eral Byelyaev. Headquarters : Wenden, north- 
east of Riga. 

Shlok Column of all arms. 

Vllth Siberian Corps : I2th Siberian and 13 th Siberian 

4th Cavalry Division. 

Ilnd Siberian : 4th Siberian, 5th Siberian. 

XXXVIIth Corps ; Brigade of Xlllth Corps, 79. 

5TH ARMY : General Plehve. Chief of Staff: General 
Miller. Headquarters : Dvinsk. 

XXVIII, 3rd Rifle Division, 60. 

Trubetskoi's Cavalry Column : ist Caucasian Rifle 
Brigade, ist Cavalry Division, 2nd Cavalry 

I5th Cavalry Division. 

XIX, 17, 38. 

Ill, 5th Rifle Division, 73. 

XXIII, 20, 53- 

XXIX, ist Rifle, 3rd Caucasian Rifle, 
noth Division. 

In reserve of Front, at Ryejitsa : XXI, 33, 44, 78. 
Southern line of demarcation of the Northern Front : 

Davgeli, south-west of Dvinsk to Drissa, east of 

WESTERN FRONT. Commander-in-Chief : General Ewarth. 
Chief of Staff: General Kvyetsinski. General 
Quartermaster : General P. P. Lebedev. Head- 
quarters : Minsk. 

346 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

IST ARMY: General Lit vino v. Chief of Staff : General 
Odishelidze. Headquarters : Krulevshchizna. 

4th Don Gossack Cavalry Division. 

1st Cavalry Corps : 8th and I4th Cavalry Divisions. 

Tumanov's Cavalry Corps : 6th and I3th Cavalry 

Kaznakov's Cavalry Corps : 1st Guard Cavalry Divi- 
sion, 5th Cavalry Division, Ussuri Cavalry Bri- 

3rd Don Cossack Cavalry Division. 

Potapov's Cavalry Column : Two Siberian Gossack 
and one Don Gossack cavalry regiments. 

IV., 30, 40. 

I., 24, 59> 22. 

1st Siberian, ist Siberian, 2nd Siberian. 

XIV., 18,70. 

Reserve : Vlth Siberian, 3rd Siberian, I4th Siberian. 

2ND ARMY : General Smirnov. Chief of Staff: General 

Stavrov. Headquarters : Minsk. 
XX., 28, 29. 
V., 7, 10. 
XXVII., 76, 45. 
XXXIV., 104, 56. 
XXXVI., 68, 25. 
In Reserve : IVth Siberian : 9th Siberian, loth Siberian. 

IOTHARMY: General Radkevich. Chief of Staff: General 
Popov. Headqiiarters : Izyaslavl, north-west of 

XXVI., 64, 84. 

Illrd Siberian : 7th Siberian, 8th Siberian. 

Ilnd Caucasian : Caucasian Grenadier, 51. 

II., 43, 26. 

XXXVIIL, 61, 69, 62. 

Osovets Corps : 57, in. 

In Reserve re-forming : Ist Guard : ist Guard Infantry, 
2nd Guard Infantry. Ilnd Guard : 3rd Guard 

August -October, 1915 347 

Infantry, Guard Rifle Brigade. Vth Caucasian i 
2nd and 4th Finland Rifle Divisions. 2nd Division. 

4THARMY: General Ragoza. Chief of Staff: General 

Yunakov. Headquarters : Nesvij. 
1st Turkistan : ist and 2nd Turkistan Rifle Brigades, 

nth Siberian Division. 
Vth Siberian : 6th Siberian, 50. 
XXXV., 67, 50. 
XVI., 41, 47. 
XXV., 3rd Grenadier, 46. 
XV., 6, 8. 

Grenadier : ist Grenadier, 2nd Grenadier. 
In Reserve : 8ist Division, Trans-Baikal Gossack 

Brigade, Turkistan Gossack Brigade, 

3RD ARMY : General Lesh. Chief of Staff: General 

Baiov. Headquarters : Slutsk. 
IX., 5, 42. 
X., 9, 31. 
XXIV., 48, 49. 
Illrd Caucasian, 52, 21. 
2nd Guard Cavalry Division. 
XXXL, 27, 75, 83. 
IVth Cavalry Corps : 3rd Caucasian Gossack Cavalry 

Division, 3rd Cavalry Division, 2nd Composite 

Cossack Cavalry Division, i6th Cavalry Division, 

77th Division. 
Southern line of demarcation of the Western Front : 


SOUTH-WESTERN FRONT: Commander-in-Chief : General 
Ivanov. Chief of Staff : General Savich. General 
Quartermaster : General Dietrikhs. Headquarters : 

STH ARMY : General Brusilov. Chief of Staff: General 

Orlov's Cavalry Division, 

348 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

XXX., 4th Rifle Division, 71, 80. 
XXXIX., 102, 125. 
XII., 12, 15. 
VIIL, 14, 3. 

XVII, 35. 
VII., 13, 34. 

Arriving on transfer from the gth Army : 2nd Rifle 
Division, 82nd Division. 

IITH ARMY : General Shcherbachev. Chief of Staff: 

General Golovin. 

VI., 16, 4. Trans-Amur Cavalry Brigade. 
XVIII., 23, 37- 
XXII., 3rd Finland Rifle Division, 1st Finland Rifle 


QTH ARMY : General Lechitski. Chief of Staff : General 
Sanikov. Headquarters : Twenty-five miles south 
of Proskurov. 

XL, n, 32. 

Ilnd Cavalry Corps : 9th and I2th Cavalry Divisions, 
Caucasian Native Division. 

XXXIII., ist and 2nd Trans-Amur Divisions, ist and 
2nd Plastun Brigades, 74. 

XXXII., 101, 103. 

Illrd Cavalry Corps : ist Don Cossack Cavalry Divi- 
sion, loth Cavalry Division. 

This army was formidable on paper. Unfortunately in 
strength it was only a third of war establishment. From calcula- 
tions made at the time, I estimated the total strength of the 
Russian army on the Western Frontier at the commencement of 
the winter of 1915-1916 at only 650,000 rifles, 2,590 machine-guns 
and 4,000 3" field guns. 

Six hundred and fifty thousand rifles to defend a front that 
from Reval to Czernowitz was not far short of one thousand miles 
were little enough. It was impossible for the moment for the 
Russians to bring their divisions up to establishment, first 

August-October, 1915 349 

because the depots had been drained dry, and, secondly, because 
even if trained men had been available, there were no rifles to 
arm them. The prospect of the army being able to resume the 
offensive in the spring with any chance of success depended 
primarily on the balance-sheet of rifles. 

The army was, however, weak in other ways. The number of ~vi 
officers of every kind in the normal division of sixteen battalions 
and six batteries had fallen to an average of no. Few infantry 
units still retained more than 12 to 20 per cent, of their original 
establishment of professional officers. The number of guns of a - 
calibre of over 3" per army corps of thirty-two to forty-eight 
battalions was on an average only fourteen, and three-quarters of 
these were light howitzers. 

The morale of the army had come through a severe trial, and 
one that would have been fatal to most armies. It was im- 
possible to avoid being struck by the respect with which the more 
intelligent commanders regarded the determination of the 
Germans and their skill in manoeuvre as well as their superiority 
in technique. There was a belief that the Germans ' ' could do 
anything/' This was natural, but unhealthy. Among the rank 
and file there had been very many desertions to the enemy as well 
as to the rear, and the steps taken to capture the latter, and their 
punishment when captured, were alike inadequate. 

Colonel Rodzianko, the A.D.G. to the Commander of the 
Guard Corps, when travelling from Molodechno to Minsk about 
September 26th, was approached at almost every station by 
deputations of peasants, who complained that swarms of Russian 
deserters, many of whom had thrown their rifles down wells, were 
hiding in the woods and maintaining themselves by robbery. 

In Minsk, the Governor allowed the Jews to close their shops 
on three successive Jewish holidays, with the result that soldier 
deserters broke into the shops and took what they wanted without 
paying. Rodzianko went to General Ewarth, the Commander- 
in-Chief of the Front, and told him frankly that if these things 
were not put down there was grave danger of a revolution. 
Ewarth, who was a strong Conservative, said : There will be no 
revolution here. It is your uncle in the Duma that arranges 

350 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

revolutions." He, however, placed troops at the disposal of the 
Commandant of the Town for the preservation of order. 

The number of men who reported ' sick ' was enormous. 
Any excuse was good enough to get away from the front. They 
said there was no good in their fighting, as they were always 

A letter seen at the Staff of the Western Front at Minsk in 
early October threw a queer light on discipline. It had been 
addressed, evidently from patriotic motives, by a young company 
commander in one of the Siberian regiments to General Alexyeev, 
and by him had been sent from G.H.Q. to the Staff of the Western 
Front " for information/' This officer wrote that if Russia was 
to win the war " as win she must " certain things must be put 
right. Commanding officers of regiments must be selected more 
carefully. For instance, his commanding officer, whose name he 
gave, "though an excellent fellow, never went near the front, 
spending the whole time while fighting was going on with his 
brigade commander at least six versts from the firing-line." His 
only object seemed to be to find a house as far as possible removed 
from the enemy's shells. The German artillery was used with the 
utmost boldness, and was pushed right forward to shell the Russian 
trenches, and, though the writer had often asked our guns to reply, 
they seldom did. Russian attacks were " almost always ' made 
without artillery preparation, and for this reason the men no 
longer attacked willingly. 

The Russian soldier, when seen after a prolonged strain, often 
looked poor stuff, but he had an extraordinary power of rapid 
recuperation. On September I3th some men of the Illrd Corps 
were seen arriving in the trenches of the Dvinsk bridgehead. They 
straggled in singly or in small groups at long intervals. If the 
German cavalry had come along it could have collected hundreds 
with scarcely an effort. The officers were making no attempt to 
prevent straggling. On the other hand, the men of the 28Qth 
Regiment of the same corps, who had had a few hours rest the 
night before, looked quite a useful lot. I asked Odishelidze if he 
thought the morale of the Russian soldier would suffer permanently 
from the retreat. He said : " No, he is only a slightly superior 

August -October, 1915 351 

animal without nerves, and he soon forgets things." The opinion 
held by General Novitski, the able Commander of the 3rd Rifle 
Division, seemed a very good description of the Russian 
soldier. He said : ' He is an excellent soldier as long as all goes 
well, and marches according to programme, when he knows 
where his officers are and hears his guns supporting him, i.e., in a 
successful attack or in trenches on the defensive, but when the 
unexpected happens, as is generally the case in action against the 
Germans, it is a different matter." 

In September and October I spent a few days at G.H.Q. and 
at the Headquarters of the Northern Front at Pskov and of the 
Western Front at Minsk. 

After lunch at G.H.Q. I ventured to ask the Emperor for a 
pass to enable me, as the representative of an Allied Power, to 
obtain such information as I required. He agreed to this at 
once, and the possession of this pass made my work much easier. 

At Pskov I met General Ruzski for the first time. Nikolai 
Vladimirovich Ruzski was at this time sixty-one three and a 
half years older than Alexyeev and Ewarth. He had com- 
menced his service in the infantry of the Guard, and had spent most 
of it in Staff appointments in close connection with the troops. 
Like Alexyeev and Ewarth, he had taken part in both the 1877 
and the 1904-1905 campaigns, and, like Ewarth and Polivanov, 
he had been wounded in the Turkish war. He commanded the 
3rd Army brilliantly at the commencement of the Great War, and 
succeeded Jilinski in command of the North-West Front in 
September, 1914. He was idolised by his Staff, who asserted 
that Alexyeev and Danilov were jealous of him, and for that reason 
had delayed sending the necessary strength to the Northern 
Front 1 Ruzski was reputed to be a clear thinker, with a rapid 
grasp of problems. He had the faculty of making others work, and 
so always had time at his disposal. He was a close friend of 
General Polivanov, who considered him the ablest general in the 
Russian army. Unfortunately he suffered from indifferent health. 
General Ewarth, who had been promoted to command the 
Western Front in early September, 1915, in succession to Alexyeev, 

352 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

was of a very different type to Ruzski. His family was of Swedish 
origin, but he belonged to the Orthodox faith. He was a stern 
disciplinarian, and his manner had nothing of the delightful Slav 
charm of Ruzski's. At Minsk he dined always with the Staff of 
the Western Front at midday. All officers had to assemble before 
he arrived, and they bowed low as he walked stiffly up the hall, 
bowing ceremoniously to right and left. Officers who knew him 
complained that he insisted on going into the pettiest details, and 
he was in the habit of writing or dictating his orders himself. 
In command of the 4th Army, he had been successful without 
being brilliant. He was at this time fifty-eight, the same age as 

Ewarth's General Quartermaster was Pavel Pavlovich 
Lebedev, a very good fellow, with whom I made friends. 

October jth, 1915. MINSK. 

I took a bottle of vodka to Lebedev as a little present 
this morning, and he asked me to sup with him in his 
quarters with Samoila (my old friend and his assistant), 
and another staff officer, in order to celebrate the occasion. 
The conversation turned to a discussion of the share of the 
common burden borne by each of the Allies, and little 
Lebedev, who is a most ardent patriot, let himself go. 
He said that history would despise England and France for 
having " sat still like rabbits " month after month in the 
Western theatre, leaving the whole burden of the war to 
be borne by Russia. Of course I disputed this, and pointed 
out that Russia would have been forced to conclude peace 
by the spring of 1915 if it had not been for England, for 
Arkhangel and even Vladivostok would have been block- 
aded. I reminded him that, though we had had only a 
very small army before the war, we now had nearly as 
many bayonets in the firing-line as Russia, who had a 
population of 180,000,000 to our 45,000,000. As regards 
France, I repeated Delcasse's remark that if Russia were 
to make an effort equivalent to that of France, she would 
have to mobilise 17,000,000 men. 

August -October, 1915 353 

Lebedev replied that he did not wish to make com- 
parisons between what the various armies had actually 
done, but he complained that England did not realise that 
the present war was one for her very existence. No 
doubt England was doing a good deal, but she was not 
doing all that she could. Russia was. She grudged 
nothing. Nothing could be of greater value to her than 
the lives of her sons, and those she was squandering 
freely. England gave money freely but grudged men 
The number of men that Russia would willingly offer was 
only limited by her power of arming and equipping them, 
and that, as I knew, was restricted. England was waging 
the war as if it were an ordinary war, but it was not. Of 
all the Allies, it would be easiest for Russia to make a 
separate peace. She might lose Poland, but Poland was 
nothing to her. She might have to pay an indemnity, but 
in twenty years she would be strong again. On the other 
hand, if Germany were allowed by England to win, she 
would in twenty years have a fleet three times as strong as 
England's. He repeated : " We are playing the game 
We are giving everything. Do you think it is easy for us 
to look on those long columns of fugitives flying before the 
German advance ? We know that all the children crowded 
on those carts will die before the winter is out." 

What could I say to all of this I who knew that much 
of what he said was only the truth ? I said what I could. 
I only hope that I talked no more foolishly than some of our 
statesmen, for I had a more critical audience ! 





I REACHED Petrograd on the morning of October nth, having 
been recalled by the Ambassador to accompany a Delegation 
to France and England in order to represent Russia's require- 
ments in war material. 

The Delegation, in charge of Admiral Russin, Chief of the 
Naval General Staff, left Petrograd on Sunday evening, the I7th, 
and arrived at Arkhangel two days later. It consisted of the 
Admiral's Flag-Lieutenant (Lieutenant Lyubomirov), Lieutenant- 
Commander Romanov of the Naval General Staff, Major-General 
Savrimovich of the Military Technical Department, Colonel 
Federov of the Artillery Department, and M. Tarne, an official of 
the Ministry of War. It was joined later in London by Colonel 
Kelchevski of the General Staff, who travelled through Sweden. 

Admiral Russin had been selected to head the Delegation on 
account of his knowledge of English, He unfortunately lacked 
the experience and personality necessary to enable him to compete 
on equal terms with men of the calibre of Mr. Lloyd George and 
M. Albert Thomas. 

Lyubomirov was an amusing fellow who enjoyed to the full 
the good things of life, but nursed a deadly jealousy of " that dog 
Romanov," the Admiral's trusted adviser. 

Savrimovich was a dear old gentleman, whose chief work 
during the war was apparently to place orders for barbed wire. Of 
this article, he told me that there had been in Russian fortresses 
on mobilisation 13,262 tons, that up till the end of September, 
1915, Russian factories had supplied an additional 18,476 tons, 


A Russian Delegation to England and France 355 

and that no less than 69,016 tons had reached Russia from 
abroad. Some months later, when I met him in the street at 
Petrograd, he told me with pride that he calculated that he had 
by then placed sufficient orders to join the earth with the moon by 
a cable an inch thick ! In addition to barbed wire, he wanted 
from the Western Allies automobiles, entrenching tools, telegraph 
and telephone material, searchlights, aeroplanes and wireless 

Federov was a very efficient artillery officer who had invented, 
among other things, an excellent automatic rifle. He was as 
honest as the daylight, and enjoyed a keen sense of humour. 
His main task was to obtain rifles and heavy guns. 

Kelchevski was a capable staff officer who had been at one 
time an instructor at the Military Academy, and was afterwards to 
rise to the command of the Qth Army. 

Tarne carried a portfolio full of elaborate tables showing the 
monthly expenditure of each article in the past and the estimated 
total expenditure till the end of 1916. He was pleasant and 
good-tempered, and played the piano. 

The members of the Delegation were one and all good fellows, 
and it would have been impossible to choose a pleasanter set of 
companions for the varied experiences on which we were about to 

The following also accompanied the party on its journey to 
England : Captain Oobban of the Indian Army, MM. Muraviev 
and Vassiliev of the Russian Diplomatic Service, and Mrs. Blair, 
the wife of my assistant at Petrograd. 

We slept two nights at Arkhangel on board H.M.S. the 
jEgusa, formerly Sir Thomas Lipton's yacht the Erin, com- 
manded by a fine type of naval officer who had retired before the 
war as an admiral, but who had returned to "do his bit " in a 
humbler capacity. 

On the 2Oth we lunched with the Governor, and spent the rest 
of the day in official visits and in the collection of information 
regarding the situation at Arkhangel, the most important port of 
entry for foreign supplies. 

The narrow-gauge line from Arkhangel to Vologda was being 

356 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

converted to normal gauge, and it was calculated that the work 
would be completed by the beginning of the New Year. In the 
autumn of 1915 only 170 ten-ton wagons left Arkhangel daily, but 
it was hoped, on the completion of the conversion of gauge, to 
despatch 375 sixteen-ton wagons per diem. There appeared to 
be an enormous accumulation of stores at the port copper and 
lead and aluminium, rubber and coal, and no less than 700 
automobiles in wooden packing-cases. Most of this material 
was lying out in the open, but we were assured that it would all 
be cleared forward in the winter, when deliveries from overseas 
would cease for a time. 

We were warned that we would have to be prepared for the 
practical stoppage of imports in the months of February and 
March, when the ice usually packs in the mouth of the White 
Sea, unless, which was improbable, the Kola-Kandalaksha line 
was finished by then. It was said that the Petrozavodsk- 
Serotka section of this Murmansk line would be opened for 
traffic early in the New Year but though Messrs. Pawlings had 
commenced work on the northern or Kola section, the British firm 
had a very difficult task before it. 

The great personality in Arkhangel was Captain Proctor of the 
Scottish Horse a Scot of the Scots, who did fine work throughout 
the war, first as private and later as official flax-buyer. He was 
always a complete compendium of information regarding every- 
thing at Arkhangel, and he enjoyed great popularity among 

Wednesday, October 2jth, 1915. H.M.S. Arlanza, 


We have gone through a lot since I wrote the last 
entry (October 20th). This Diary, amongst other things 
in my dispatch-case, has been floating down the White 
Sea, but it is now fairly right again, having been dried at 
the hot-air apparatus in my cabin. 

We left Arkhangel in the Government steamer Bakhan 
last Thursday six days ago. After a few hours' steam 
we transhipped, together with 160,000 worth of platinum, 

A Russian Delegation to England and France 357 

to H.M.S. Arlanza, an enormous hulk of over 15,000 tons, 
standing high out of the water. 

It was arranged that all my party should have separate 
cabins. Captain Norres, the captain of the Arlanza, 
invited most of them to have their meals with him in a 
private dining-room that during the commercial life of the 
ship had been the " Ladies' Boudoir." 

The ship has a good cook. 

We started with five British trawlers working ahead 
of us and sweeping for mines. We anchored at night when 
sweeping was impossible. 

At 4.50 p.m. on the second day of the voyage the 
officer in charge of the trawlers had just been on board to 
wish the Admiral a pleasant journey and to tell him that 
all was now clear. The Captain, Admiral, Romanov and I 
were in the ' Boudoir," having tea. The Admiral was 
saying that he thought we were not yet " out of the wood/' 
when there was a sudden explosion at the bows which 
shook the whole ship and brought down on the table a 
shower of the ornamental moulding from the ceiling. No 
one said a word, for we all knew exactly what it was. We 
ran to our cabins on the next deck above to get our fur 
coats. I got my shuba on and came back with Mrs. 
Blair, who was wonderfully calm. It can't have been five 
minutes after the explosion when we reached the boat- 
deck, and I was surprised to find the boats already full and 
about to be lowered. Mrs. Blair, Lyubomirov, Muraviev 
and I got into a boat on the starboard side. Luckily there 
was only a very slight swell on. All the same, it was an 
unpleasant experience to be lowered from an immense 
height, trusting to the nerves of the people above holding 
out ! We reached the water safely, but there was no 
British naval officer, or apparently even a petty officer, to 
take charge, and Lyubomirov added to the confusion by 
trying to direct matters in incomprehensible English. 
We were glued to the side of the ship. I looked up and 
saw that the boat originally next to ours was being lowered 

358 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

perpendicularly, one of the davits having been allowed to 
slip. The boat was bang over our heads, and it looked as 
if the other davit was about to be slipped too, in which 
case we were all deaders. A third boat came alongside, 
and the midshipman in charge took Mrs. Blair from our 
boat, calling out : " That boat is sinking. Take the lady 

When I looked up again a few seconds later we had 
already drifted several yards and the perpendicular boat 
was no longer hanging over us. A sailor was just falling 
out of it, and was pulled into another boat near at hand. 
At last our men got out their oars, and we pulled to the 
nearest trawler, the men working well as soon as I had 
discovered a quartermaster who had been blushing unseen 
in the bottom of the boat and who took command vice 

We only remained two minutes on the trawler. It was 
evident that the Arlanza was not going to sink immediately, 
and Lyubomirov wanted to return to her to get his papers. 
I got half a dozen volunteers to row us back, everybody 
coming willingly except my Russian servant Maxim, who 
whined and refused. On our way we met a small gig from 
one of the trawlers, manned by a petty officer and two 
seamen, and as our boat was taking water badly, Lyu- 
bomirov and I transhipped and sent our boat back. We 
paddled round to the other side of the Arlanza before we 
found a rope, by which Lyubomirov and the petty officer 
climbed up. Lyubomirov kept me waiting over half an 
hour while he got and lowered his attache case, and, much 
against my will, my attache case, which fell into the sea. 
It was very cold in the gig, and the two trawler men were 
only half-clothed. While we waited they saw the trawler, 
with all their belongings, sink, but took the blow with 
philosophic British calm. 

At length a gangway was lowered and I was able to 
get on board. I met the Captain, who had remained on 
board throughout, and he told me that the ship was not 

A Russian Delegation to England and France 359 

in immediate danger, and that he was going to try to make 
Svyatoi Nos with the help of the Wilson liner Novo, a 
three-thousand tonner which was standing by. 

Lyubomirov and I decided to remain on the Arlanza, 
which, if a little more risky, was decidedly more comfort- 
able. He went off to collect the remainder of the party 
from their various trawlers and to take them to the Novo, 
and he took with him some of Mrs. Blair's belongings, 
which we packed together. 

At 8.30 p.m. Norres and I had some sandwiches 
together. The crew came tumbling back up till mid- 
night. One poor devil of a stoker had got caught in a 
watertight compartment door, but had had a wonderful 

We slept in our clothes, as no one knew that the ship 
might not suddenly go down. I slept only by fits and starts. 
We started at 7 a.m. on Saturday, tugged stern ahead by 
the Wilson liner Novo, with the trawlers once more sweeping 
in advance. The Novo had her work cut out to pull us, 
and progress was constantly interrupted by the snapping 
of the cable. Just before lunch we must have reached the 
place we had struck on Friday, for the trawlers caught up 
a mine and exploded it after some firing. While Lyu- 
bomirov and I were discussing an excellent lunch, one of 
the stewards calmly remarked that a man had just come 
down to say that there was a mine about seven feet from 
the ship ! We ran on deck, and were in time to see four 
of the quartermasters in a melancholy group watching 
another mine floating quietly away under our stern. A 
new cable was being attached at the time, so we were 
standing still. If these were really mines, and the thing 
we saw bobbing on the water certainly looked like one, 
God was very good to us. We had drifted over ten miles 
south before casting anchor after the explosion on Friday, 
so that it was probably the same unhealthy spot that we 
struck on Saturday. We got some seven miles further and 
then anchored for the night. 

360 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 , 

On Sunday we were towed once more without a single 
snap of the hawser up till 4 p.m., when we were approach- 
ing Svyatoi Nos. The Captain then manoeuvred the ship, 
first with bow and then with stern ahead, till about mid- 
night we reached an anchorage in lea of the Point and 
north of the Yukanskie Islands. The Novo passed through 
the narrow channel to the inner anchorage. 

It began to blow in the night, and blew a half-gale on 
Monday, so that we could not attempt the narrow passage, 
and in our helpless condition did not weigh anchor. The 
Novo came out and sailed round us, returning once more 
to the inner refuge. However, Norres, to whose stout- 
hearted energy we all owe our safety, was taking his 
measures. He had parties working all day and that night 
moving ballast to shore up the bulkhead, and balancing 
the ship by pumping water aft and removing 6* shell in 
the same direction. It was providential that this shell in 
the forward magazine had not been detonated by the 
explosion, though much of it had fallen out into the sea. 

The wind dropped on Tuesday, and after one failure, in 
which we narrowly escaped running ashore, the Captain 
managed to take us in running bow ahead. The remains 
of our original bow fell off under the strain, and the escorting 
trawlers signalled first : " Your starboard bow is gone," 
and later : " Your port bow has fallen off," Norres reply- 
ing : " We know it, but are not downhearted." 

It is impossible to describe the relief it was to reach at 
length the safety of the inner anchorage. 

The passengers returned from the Novo. They had had 
an uncomfortable time, Savrimovich and Romanov having 
spent ten minutes in the water on Friday. 

We all attended a thanksgiving service, the prayers 
being read by Norres, who nearly broke down from the 
reaction after the tremendous strain he had undergone in 
the past four days. 

We spent the time on the crippled Arlanza comfortably 

A Russian Delegation to England and France 361 

enough, but absolutely cut off from all communication from the 
outer world till we were rescued by the Orotava, which was 
despatched from England to bring home the Russian Delegation 
and the surplus crew of the Arlanza. 

Before we left, the ice in the bay had crept quite close. The 
Arlanza remained till sufficiently patched up by Russian en- 
gineers to attempt the journey home in the summer of 1916. 

We sailed in the Orotava on Saturday, the I3th, and arrived 
at Greenock in a dense fog on Sunday night, November 2ist. 
The voyage is not a pleasant memory. One or two days it was 
very rough. The doors continually banged in a way that re- 
minded one of an artillery action. The constant " practice 
alarms ' ' were disconcerting, especially when one was awakened 
from one's afternoon doze by a stentorian command outside the 
cabin door to " Prepare to abandon ship ! " Our nerves, indeed, 
were no longer what they had been. Poor old Savrimovich told 
me that he would willingly give,ooo (1,000) to find himself 
safely back in his Petrograd flat and the trip to Western Europe 
a thing of the past. One night he was convinced that someone on 
the ship was signalling to a German submarine. On another 
night, when we were passing through the Northern Patrol, he was 
much exercised because we were running with lights, and worried 
so much that I finally lost patience, and suggested that he should 
go up on the bridge and take command, sending the captain below 
as a passenger. Then he looked at me, laughing with his kind 
old eyes, and said : " My God, what a cross man you are ! " so 
that I was ashamed of myself. When two German cruisers were 
reported by wireless to have left Kiel, the conclusion was at once 
jumped to that they were coming to attack us, and Romanov 
amused himself by telling the soldiers of the party how lucky they 
were, mere landsmen, to have a chance of taking part in a real 
naval battle. 

On Monday morning, November 22nd, we went ashore at 
Greenock and travelled luxuriously in a special saloon to St. 
Pancras, where we arrived at 6.40 p.m., five weeks and a day 
after our departure from Petrograd. 

Lord Kitchener was in the Middle East and Mr. Asquith was 

362 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

in temporary charge of the War Office. We had, however, more 
to do with Mr. Lloyd George, as Minister of Munitions, and his 
magnetic personality at once impressed the Russian delegates, 
Kelchevski and Romanov frequently afterwards remarking to me 
on his " wonderfully penetrating eyes." 

At the Inter-allied Munitions Conference, poor Admiral Russin 
was at a distinct disadvantage in having to speak for Russia in a 
foreign language, while Mr. Lloyd George and M. Albert Thomas 
spoke English and French. 

Friday, December loth, 1915. HOTEL CRILLON, PARIS. 

Ellershaw is working wonders, but we have been much 
delayed in our work by the fact that although the list ot 
requirements has been sent according to Lyubomirov 
" to all corners of the earth," nevertheless the Admiral has 
to telegraph to Petrograd in each case for authority to 
place orders, thus delaying progress and worrying Eller- 

On the whole the British have met the requirements 
well. Lloyd George has promised 15,000,000 Japanese 
small-arms ammunition to be delivered in Russia in May, 
25,000,000 in June, and 45,000,000 in July and the suc- 
ceeding months ; also 300 4-5 howitzers. 

We left London on Wednesday morning, the 8th, and 
crossed to Paris. At Boulogne several French soldiers 
saluted, at which the Russians were evidently pleased, 
one of them remarking : " You see, the French salute." 
The failure of some of our men to salute had evidently been 
remarked in London. 

Lord Kitchener was in Paris, and Sir Edward Grey had come 
over with Mr. O'Beirne, who had been our counsellor for many 
years in Petrograd, and more recently British Minister at Sofia. 

Continuation of Diary : 

I was going to see Cyrano de Bergerac last night, but 

A Russian Delegation to England and France 363 

met O'Beirne, who advised me to come to play bridge with 
Sir Edward Grey and him in order to have an opportunity 
for a talk with Lord K. on the Russian requirements of 
small-arms ammunition. I went up at 9 p.m. to the big 
salon on the first floor of the Orillon overlooking the Place 
de la Concorde, and found there Lord K., Sir Edward Grey, 
Sir William Robertson, O'Beirne and Colonels Fitzgerald 
and Buckley. They were sitting at a round table, having 
just finished dinner. I pressed Lord K. for the 20,000,000 
Gras ammunition that the Russians required in order to 
enable them to place all their Gras rifles on the front. 
K. said : " We must get them from the French," and 
promised to speak to Joffre and Galieni on the subject 4 
Then Robertson, whom I met for the first time, asked when 
the Russians were going to take the offensive again. I 
tried to point out that it was impossible to expect the 
Russians, who were now outnumbered by two to one, to 
take the offensive with any chance of success when the 
Allies in France, who themselves outnumbered the Ger- 
mans by the same proportion, were unable to break the 
enemy front. He denied that the Allies in the West had 
two to one, and said that the actual proportion was three 
to two. After Lord K. had said good-night, Robertson 
asked me to come to see him this morning at 9 a.m. 

I had an hour's talk with him this morning. He said 
that some of my dispatches were too pessimistic. I would 
not allow this, though I agree with his remark that the 
Russians had managed their retreat from Poland skilfully. 
I tried to get his general view of the situation and of our 
chances of success, subjects on which Russian officers, who 
were commencing to doubt their own powers, were con- 
stantly pressing me for information. He thinks the war 
will not be ended by preponderance of artillery or by lack 
of men on one side or the other, but by the higher rulers 
getting sick of it. He says that the failures on the Western 
Front are easy to explain. We have to take a fortress, 
and a fortress that we cannot circumvent. We have 

364 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

hitherto put in too many men in rushing the first two 
lines, and when this has been done all is in disorder, and 
the Germans have had time to prepare large fresh forces 
for their counter-attack. He thinks we will win the war if 
we avoid wild-cat schemes like Baghdad, Gallipoli and 
East Africa and concentrate on the main theatres. I was 
surprised to hear him say that Gallipoli was feasible if the 
operation had been properly undertaken. He asked 
numberless questions regarding the remaining capabilities 
of the Russian army. He agreed that the re-armament of 
Russia is the main problem of the winter months. He 
said that in future military attache's would have to report 
on the manufacturing capabilities of the countries they are 
accredited to, instead of as in the past, merely on the army 
and its organisation and training. I pointed out that 
military attaches had erred in good company in imagining 
that the Great War would be a short war, and one that 
would not therefore tax the internal structure of the various 
countries. I asked him if it were not possible to have a 
single command in the West, pointing out the extra- 
ordinary advantages that had accrued to the enemy 
allies in the Eastern theatre through one of them being 
indisputably " top dog.'' He said that we did all that the 
French asked us to do, that we attacked where and when 
they asked, and if they wanted us to postpone our attack 
we agreed ; that we could not do more than that ; we 
could not place a British army under foreign command, 
for that had never been done in history. He thinks 
Rumania will never come in with us he only hopes she may 
remain neutral. 

Saturday, December nth, 1915. AMIENS. 

We left Paris at 7.30 a.m., the Admiral, Ignatiev (the 
Russian Military Attache), Kelchevski and Federov in 
two cars, and Lyubomirov and I in a third. 

We saw Joffre at Ghantilly, and the Admiral pressed 
the Russian claim for more Gras ammunition and for more 

A Russian Delegation to England and France 365 

heavy artillery. I don't think he did it very forcibly, but 
Ignatiev, who seems to be on good terms with Joffre, 
understands the situation and will do his best. 

Kelchevski, Federov and I, with a French officer, left 
Ghantilly in two cars at 3.30 p.m. for Foch's Headquarters 
west of Amiens. I had met Foch at manoeuvres in Russia 
in 1910, and afterwards in Paris, so after he had spoken for 
some time to the Russians, and I was about to follow 
them out, he asked me to return later to speak to him. He 
sent a car to the Hotel du Rhin, where we dined, and I 
returned with the A.D.G. I told him all about Russia, 
explaining as well as I could the necessity for us to get 
Gras S.A. A. He wrote this down, and I hope will impress 

Foch is convinced that we will break through in the 
Western theatre as soon as we get enough guns and enough 
gas. He says that the next offensive will be simultaneous 
with one in the Eastern theatre. 

I was amused to hear that General Jilinski, the Russian 
Military Representative, with Joffre, held up his hands in 
horror when he heard that Federov had been given by the 
Artillery Department the detail and number of the heavy 
guns in the Russian army. 

When I was saying good-night, Foch spoke of Henry 
Wilson, and said that " with those long legs of his " he was 
running about between the two armies and was doing work 
as valuable as any army commander in helping the main- 
tenance of cordial relations. 

We spent December I2th in visiting the front of the French 
loth Army, lunching with General Neudon in command of the 
70th Division and dining at St. Pol with General D' Urban, the 
Army Commander. The French arrangements for the comfort of 
the Russians had throughout been excellent. 

It had been arranged that we were to see something of the 
British front on the I3th, and to spend the night at British 
G.H.Q. at St. Omer before returning to England. As the French 

366 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

had given us closed cars, we had left our furs in Paris, and it was a 
shock when a young officer turned up on the morning of the I3th 
with open cars. I learned, too, that it was not contemplated 
that the British Commander-m-Ghief should personally receive 
the Russian visitors. Such an omission would have made a 
disastrous impression, so I said that if the Commander-in-Ohief 
was unable to receive them it would be better for me to take them 
on my own responsibility straight to Boulogne, without visiting 
British G.H.Q. at all. 

Generals Snow and Frank Lyon, of the Vllth Corps, with 
whom we lunched, fitted us out with warm clothing as a protection 
against the bitterly cold wind. General Lambton, of the 4th 
Division, accompanied us round his trenches and showed us 
everything that we asked to see. Kelchevski took a great fancy 
to Lyon, and often said later that " the pleasantest recollection ' 
he had of the British front in France was " General Lyon/' 

At St. Omer we were left to dine alone at a very indifferent 
hotel. When next morning I mentioned to the young officer 
who had accompanied us at the front that British officers visiting 
Russian G.H.Q. would have been very differently treated, he 
replied : " My dear sir, we are running a war ! ' It is possible 
that the reason of this seeming lack of attention was the change in 
the British Command then in progress, for Sir John French left 
for England on the I4th, soon after he had received the Russian 

I saw Sir Henry Wilson for a moment at G.H.Q. He said that 
the Anglo French armies would not be able to break through till 
Russia had drawn off thirty divisions to the East, and he asked me 
when I thought this could be done. 

This type of question made me think that the pessimism of 
my dispatches, at which people laughed, had not been deep 
enough. Competent authorities in the West seemed to expect 
from Russia a continued effort based on the size of her population, 
without taking into consideration the limitations imposed by 
actual conditions of armament, communications and power of 

On Friday the I7th I accompanied Admiral Russin and 

A Russian Delegation to England and France 367 

Lieutenant-Commander Romanov to bid farewell to Lord Kitchener 
at the War Office and to Mr. Lloyd George at the House of Commons. 
The Admiral asked Lord K. if he would continue in June and 
subsequent months " the monthly gift of 100 4-5 howitzers that 
had been promised to Russia." Lord K. had evidently not 
heard of any such promise and said bluntly : What howitzers ? ' 
I explained that this had been arranged at the Inter-allied Muni- 
tions Conference in the preceding month, and he took an angry 
note. The Russians saw that he was not over-pleased, and they 
left England with the impression that Mr. Lloyd George rather 
than Lord Kitchener was their friend. 

On Saturday the Delegation was received by the King at 
Buckingham Palace. I saw it off at the station on Sunday night, 
the i gth. The Russians were most touching in their thanks ; 
they said that I had fought their battle as if I had been a Russian 
myself, and that they would never forget my help. These were 
not empty words. I soon found when I returned to Russia that 
I was regarded with greater confidence. 

Admiral Russin, who was a strong Monarchist, resigned his 
appointment as Chief of the Naval General Staff very soon after 
the revolution of 1917, while his immediate assistant, Altfater, a 
man of more flexible opinions, continued in the service, and was 
promoted by the Bolsheviks to be Minister of Marine, in which 
position he died, it is said by his own hand, in 1919. Some months 
earlier Russin had been judicially murdered by the Bolsheviks at 
Petrograd at the same time as the Grand Duke Paul, it was said 
in reprisal for the murder of Liebknecht and Rosa Luxembourg 
at Berlin. 

Lyubomirov acted for a time in the summer of 1917 as Naval 
Aide-de-Camp to Kerenski. 

Romanov, who was a Liberal, wholeheartedly welcomed the 
First Revolution. As order gave way to anarchy, I used to go to 
see him sometimes in his room at the Naval General Staff at 
Petrograd, partly to vent my rage and partly to try to get some 
gleam of hope from an honest Russian. He used to say : " But, 
my dear fellow, you forget that we are passing through a revolu- 
tion," and then he would instance some supposedly parallel phase 

368 With the Russian Army, 1914-1917 

in the French Revolution, a history of which always lay on his 
table. The day before we left the Embassy in Petrograd on 
January 6th, 1918 he came to me to say good-bye, and broke 
down, confessing that he had never imagined that things would 
go as far as they had and that his country would stoop to the 
negotiation of a separate peace. In the autumn of the following 
year he came out to Siberia by the northern route to join Admiral 
Kolchak at Omsk, and he told me there that he had no longer 
cause for shame on Russia's behalf in talking to an ally, for the 
Allies had abandoned his country. His theory was that Bol- 
shevism, being a German war-product, the Allies were in duty 
bound to destroy it. He was captured by the Bolsheviks at 
Krasnoyarsk. He was a fine fellow and a patriot. 




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